Interview with Jan Schindelmeiser Part 1

In the summer of 2006 there couldn't have been many Hoffenheim fans who seriously believed that their team would play in the Bundesliga just two years later. Jan Schindelmeiser certainly didn't believe that. The 46-year-old was appointed General Manager at that time and a lot has happened since. In this first part of our interview, Schindelmeiser talks about the start of the year 2010, the long term goals and the new home of 1899 Hoffenheim.

Mr. Schindelmeiser, Hoffenheim had a tough start with matches against Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen, now the team is due to play Schalke 04 on Saturday. Is there more pressure on the team after losing the first two matches?

You can certainly say the matches against Bayern, Leverkusen and Schalke were very demanding. But we have to look at it as a challenge. There is always that pressure in professional sports, that's perfectly normal.

One of 1899's objectives is to secure a long term stay in the Bundesliga. The media argued that Hoffenheim had a good chance of qualifying for a European competition this season. Do you (still) agree with that estimation?

One of the key issues in professional football are the expectations we have to deal with. The team has definitely raised the bar by playing a very successful first Bundesliga season last year. We've added some substance to the squad in the summer and I can generally understand that this will lead to questions about higher aims for the season. But we should not let that blur our vision about the goals which involve establishing the club in the Bundesliga in the long run - from a sporting, commercial and social perspective.

To what extent does the short term sporting success have an effect on keeping key players like Carlos Eduardo for example?

We've just extended several contracts. This is a commitment by the player to the club. Their development is not yet finished. The decision to agree to a transfer clearly is ours. For that to happen, we would need to get some extremely attractive offers.

On one hand you need to develop and improve young, talented players, but on the other hand you need to be successful on the pitch. How difficult is this balancing act?

These things don't have to contradict one another, as we've seen in the last couple of years. It is one of the more difficult tasks to balance the short term sporting demands and the long term sporting and commercial goals. To reach a European competition and signing players which are not older than 22 years at the same time will be difficult to achieve.

The team has trained in the new facilities in Zuzenhausen since the beginning of January, which is also where the U23 team will be accommodated. What does this step mean for the future of 1899 Hoffenheim?

It's a huge step for the club. In Zuzenhausen we have the entire "football enterprise" united under one roof. More than 120 employees including players and staff are on this premises almost daily. The conditions for the professional team and U23 team are excellent. The infrastructure that we created will have an effect on this club for a long time. The sustainability of this project is underlined by the fact that our former training facilities in Hoffenheim will be home to our U16, U17, U19 and the academy after re-construction.

Published in the stadium magazine "achtzehn99" on January 24th, 2010.


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