“It’s time to go back to the team hotel now and get some sleep,” said Yalcin Ceylani, Germany’s first-choice national futsal team goalkeeper. “I’ve got to be up early to go to work. And I’ve a got a few hours to make up because I asked to be on flexitime, so I could play in our first international matches.”
Happy and proud to be a part of Die Mannschaft’s first venture into international futsal, Ceylani admitted to feeling a little tired after what have been an intensive few days and weeks. “I’ve tried to do an extra few hours when I’ve had the chance, but I think I’ve taken my body to the limit,” said the 28-year-old insurance broker. “When you get up every day at 6:30 to go to work and then go off to train or play a game, it catches up with you in the end. The last few days have made up for it all, though.”
These last few days have seen Germany’s newly founded futsal team take on England twice in the space of three days. In the first of those meetings, on 30 October, the Germans emerged 5-3 winners, with the two teams playing out a 3-3 draw two days later. “Our international debut was a very positive experience, and not just because of the results but because the team gave a very good account of itself,” said Germany coach Paul Schomann. “We played some quality futsal and I also liked the positive spirit with which we played. It augurs well for the future.”
*A winning start *“Obviously, we’re very pleased with our debut and I don’t think many people thought we’d do so well,” said Mannschaft captain Timo Heinze, echoing his coach’s words, before voicing a note of caution: “We shouldn’t be getting too carried away, though, because we have to recognise that England are not exactly one of the biggest teams in world futsal.” Formerly with Bayern Munich, where he skippered the reserve team, Heinze wrote his name in the record books by scoring Germany’s first-ever goal, putting his side 1-0 up in the first of those two games against the English. “It was amazing and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. I’m very proud and grateful.”
It was not just the players who were excited about Germany’s successful international debut. Played at Hamburg’s 2,092-capacity Inselpark, the two games against England both attracted large crowds, with the first proving a sell-out and the second attracting nearly 2,000 fans. The atmosphere on both occasions was quite special.
“It was sensational,” said Ceylani, who has won four German league titles with Hamburg Panthers, the first German club to reach the elite round of the UEFA Futsal Cup. “The atmosphere is usually good for league and European matches, but this was way better than that.”
*A long way to go *While the fans could not be faulted for the support they gave their compatriots, the fact is that they still have some way to go in understanding the finer points of the game, with several of the decisions taken on the court being vociferously contested in the stands. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that futsal is here to stay in Germany.
The road to the pinnacle of world futsal is a long one, however, and the Germans have only just begun their journey towards it. Discussing the next steps they have to take, coach Schomann said: “Obviously, we’re still developing as a futsal nation, but we’re going to be taking part in the preliminary round of UEFA Futsal EURO 2018, which takes place in Latvia next January. We’re determined to put on a good show there.”
Giving his views on the upcoming trip to Latvia, Heinze said: “It goes without saying that we won’t be going there for a holiday. We’ll be taking it very seriously and we’ll be playing to win.”
The fact that the European qualifiers will be taking place in the next calendar year is good news for Germany’s part-timers, who will have a full quota of holidays available to them. As Ceylani acknowledged, however, he will have plenty more sacrifices to make. “I’m going to give up my holiday bonus so I can have a few more days off.”