People first, athletes second, a team of passion, precision and coordination.
22/08/2017, The Sherwood Hotel, Taipei – How do you ensure a team of 126 athletes is prepared to excel in a competitive multi-sport environment? By creating an efficient web of support that caters to a person’s physical, psychological and spiritual needs.
Recognising that athletes are people first and competitors second, may be the reason why the German team is the only one to include two priests in their delegation at this year’s Summer Universiade.
In addition to the religious contingent, the team also has a head of delegation, two doctors, 10 physiotherapists, one sports psychologist and over 10 members in the office team to help ensure that the athletes are given the best possible support to achieve in their chosen disciplines.
Christoph Edeler, a delegation official for team Germany, explained that the priests provide a safe and welcoming place to turn if athletes wanted to talk. Their distinction from sport could prove the difference between an athlete opening up or dealing with potential issues alone.
“They are there to support the team and answer questions. They make you feel comfortable” said Christoph
To help officially welcome the athletes and invite them in to the wider organisational family, the German Delegation hosted a Welcome Reception at the Sherwood Hotel on Tuesday evening. Starting at 7pm, the event provided an opportunity for athletes, staff and parliamentary members to meet and celebrate over an array of delicious foods that included Peking duck, peanut powder ice cream wraps and Taiwanese sausage. It was also a time to recognise and thank Taipei officials and staff on their excellent preparations for the Games.
The speakers for the evening included Dr. Ole Schroder, Parliamentary Secretary of the German Ministry of the Interior, the Major of Taipei City, Dr. Ko Wen-je, Martin Eberts, Director of the German Institute in Taipei, and Head of Delegation Dr Katrin Werkmann, who is also Chair of the board of the German University Sports Federation.
Dr. Ole Schroder was first to address the guests and took the time to recognise the excellent host city.
“I think this also the perfect venue for the event. The spirit of competition is present because we are competing very successfully, but it is also the spirit of friendship and cooperation which brings us together here tonight and for the whole fantastic event”
Dr. Schroder’s words were echoed by the team’s doctor, Eva Schneider, who has attended a remarkable 12 Universiade’s. Dr Schneider, who first attended the Universiade as a tennis player in 1991, has been the doctor for the German Universiade team since 2001.
When asked how this year’s Universiade compares to others, she responded by saying that “this is one of the nicest, best organised and friendly” she had ever attended.
Major of Taipei City, Dr. Ko Wen-je (who also has over 60,000 followers on Instagram and a history in medicine, not politics @doctorkowj ) was upbeat and engaging when he took the stage. He recognised Germany’s fruitful sporting success so far in the Games, before speaking about how the major multi-sport event can positively impact Taipei City. The vision of this years Summer Universiade, he said, was “to contribute to building a peaceful and a better world by educating youth through sport”
This resonates with the Taipei slogan for this years event, For you, For Youth, that aims to encourage the youth of today to pursue sports as a means of connection, collaboration and friendship.
Friendship is definitely a defining characteristic of the German team. The atmosphere for the evening was speckled with laughter and rapid conversation, of which I was fortunate to be a part of.
When talking with members of the fencing team for Germany, one athlete explained that it was the combination of mental strength with physical fitness that captivated him;
“On one side the physical aspect it is very important but the mental part will show who will win and will not”
The need for mental dexterity during competition is something the German delegation actively addresses. Klaus Egert, the teams sports psychologist, says there is a need for mental skills to help bridge the gap between training and competition to ensure the athlete can perform on the day.
“The psychologist could help the athletes reach their real potential” says Klaus
With seven medals already won in just three days of competition, the German team is on track to make its mark at the 29th Summer Universiade.
Laura Quilter, (NZL) FISU Young Reporter