All of a sudden, there is a crescendo in the Footbonaut. The echoes reverberate through the TSG Hoffenheim car park, "One, two, three - win!" The creators of this noise are no strangers. On this day in October, the great sporting stars of the Rhein-Neckar region came together, united by SAP, their mutual partners. Football players from TSG Hoffenheim, handball players from Rhein-Neckar Löwen, ice hockey players from Adler Mannheim and basketball players from MLP Academics stood hand in hand. It was a big meeting in every way, as Kevin Vogt said himself, "I thought that at 6'4, I was pretty tall, but that soon was put to bed when I was here with these boys. The basketball players are genuinely big and the handball players are a decent size themselves, they've got a lot of strength."
The Hoffenheim skipper represented TSG, together will goalkeeper Oliver Baumann and Heidelberg born Lukas Rupp. The trio with their Champions League experience met other successful sports personalities. Amongst those present was Olympic silver medallist Matthias Platcha and Marcel Goc, both from the Adlers, along with former NHL star Chad Kolarik (USA). The Löwen brought multiple-time German champions Andy Schmid (Switzerland), Alexander Petersson (Iceland) and Mikael Appelgren (Sweden), all of which are top players for their respective countries. To complement these distinguished guests, three basketball players shooting hoops in the Pro-A league were present in the form of Niklas Würzner, Shy Ely and Phillipp Heyden.
"One Region, One Partner"
The athletes arrived in their club's attire which made for a spectacular picture under the banner of "One region, one partner." "As one of the largest employers in the region, it is very meaningful for us to fully support the region and its sportspeople. That goes for professional talents as well as in amateur sport," explained Lars Lamadé, Head of European & Asian Sponsorships at SAP.
After the shootout, the athletes enjoyed interacting with each other and showed great interest in other sports and training techniques. "It was a cool event. It was very enjoyable and it's always worthwhile watching the other guys' sports live in their venues. I find basketball, handball and ice hockey very interesting and I think watching ice hockey live is the best," said Vogt, also saying, "I can't play any of the other three sports myself, so I'll leave that to the lads. My father dragged me onto the football pitch at an early age, so to play another sport was never a question."
Fun in the Footbonaut
After the group photo, the representatives from other sports had the chance to show off their footballing competence. Every type of training session can be undertaken in the Footbonaut. It was an experience with fun and excitement for all involved. "I had already seen the Footbonaut before, when I was in the rehabilitation centre. It's almost like a big toy for us. If I had that in my cellar, there'd be a long queue down to it," said Goc cheekily. He went on to say, "The boys and girls here in Hoffenheim have been training a little bit more intensively on it. The way they can get so much data from it is very interesting. We only trained on it at a basic level. When the balls were coming out quickly as they do for the TSG senior squad, then it became a different ball game and that is our limit. But without a doubt, when it comes to the competition between the other sports, then the ice hockey players are just in front.
There was no comeback for his not entirely serious final comment, because his previous performance was a little too convincing. Both the basketball players and handball player Alexander Petersson had to admit, "It was my first time in the Footbonaut and I'd like to get back in there to get better at it. The ice hockey players are genuinely quite good at it, but we play football in training to warm up, even with the coach. It's always young against old, because everyone is very competitive and wants to win, but after that we're normally out of energy." As much as the handball players like to have the ball at their feet, Keeper Appelgren points out that, "We also have a top scorers list and stats on who won the practice matches and how many times. We don't yet know what will happen to the losers, the good thing is us oldies get to choose."
At the end of the day, all the sportspeople left impressed and content. It was a chance to use innovative sports technology and an opportunity to interact with other top athletes.
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