12 February, 2020

After the Eurohockey Indoor Championship played in Germany and won by the home squad (in the final beat 6-3 Austria), Real Hockey interviewed the young stars of both teams: Thies Prinz and Fabian Unterkircher. First a few questions about the tournament to Thies Prinz.

1. Germany had lost to Austria in the finals of the Eurohockey Indoor Championship and the World Cup. How was the feeling at the start of the tournament, with such a young and inexperienced team?
We knew that we were young and had just two or three players who played international indoor hockey before, but we trusted in our skills and all had the same mindset, to play the best you can and have no fear to fail. That was really important. We did not really know how this will work out, but we all wanted to win this trophy and wanted to do everything for it, so I think that we were a young, inexperienced team was not a big problem.

2. What was the secret to your team’s success?
Wow, hard question. I would say our spirit. It was like everybody in this team (players, trainers, physios or our manager) had the same goal to succeed in this big tournament. So, we generated a great spirit on and off the court. Furthermore, we knew that we can score in every game, so we wanted our defense to be incredible. I think that was a big winner too. Everybody played hard and with heart and it was not important if you played starting 5 or on the bench.
And one of the biggest advantages was the crowd we had. About 3000 people screaming every time you score or play good defense or even had a nice run or pass. That was incredible and pushed everybody to their limit.

3. What was your favorite moment in the tournament?
For sure the moment when the final was over and we won the championship. I knew we did it and in a way nobody in this team will ever forget. At this moment you only feel happiness inside of your body and that was a great feeling. Also, the moment when I was named MVP in my hometown in front of my friends and family was very special for me personally. So, I think that was a very big moment for me too.

4. The FIH has tried some innovations with indoor that haven’t gone very well. What is one rule you would change? (ex. lifting the ball, shootouts instead of penalty strokes, larger goals)
Puhhh I do not really know hahah. I am playing indoor hockey for 16 years now and for me it was always fun and I love to play indoor hockey. I think it is not necessary to change any rules, because it is great how it is. But if I could I would change the time, so that you play like 2×25 minutes or something like that and not 4×10 minutes. Larger goals are maybe a good idea as well!

And now some questions to Fabian Unterkircher.

1. In the final, after a strong start, you struggled to assert yourselves after a young German team. What was different from the past years?
First of all, big congratulations to the German team. They played incredible the whole tournament and really achieved this trophy.
In the last two years we reached a lot of our goals (indoor World and European Champions 2018, and indoor U21 European Champions 2019). I think nobody really thought that within one year we can get these 3 trophies and top of the world ranking.
The difference between this year and the last year was that we were in this Europeans the hunted team. Everyone wanted to win against Austria and had this extra motivation to beat us. We had to find ourselves in a new role and I think that was the biggest difference between 2018 and 2020.

2. How does Austria continue to perform at such a high level with so few players, doing much better than Netherlands, Belgium etc?
Simply: the passion for hockey. We train a lot and without passion and discipline, we wouldn’t have achieved what we achieved in the past years. We have many players which are already playing in different leagues (Germany, Netherlands, Belgium) and I think this mixture of different styles is also a key to our success.

3. We know Stanzl, Korper, and now you. Who are the upcoming Austrian talents we should be watching out for?
In Austria we have many upcoming talents. Last year we won the U21 indoor Championship with a very young team. Maybe three players to watch out in the next years are Benjamin Kölbl, Max Kelner and Fülöp Losonci.

4. The FIH has tried some innovations with indoor that haven’t gone very well. What is one rule you would change? (ex. lifting the ball, shootouts instead of penalty strokes, larger goals)
At the moment, there is nothing I would change. Maybe come back to the old system, 2 half of 20 minutes and 2 timeouts for each team was better. But that’s only my opinion.

Thank you for your time guys. Good luck in the upcoming tournaments!

Written by Giulio Ferrini
Image by Thies Prinz