It’s not often that beach volleyball champs from Chennai get to share their turf with international heroes. Indian national champs Pradeep John and Mohan will go up against Bavaria’s Hannes Buchner and Dominik Richter in a friendly exhibition match on Thursday, as part of the Indo-German Urban Mela highlights at YMCA, Nandanam. The match is set to happen in a ‘beach-like’ set up on the grounds.
Says Pradeep, “We have played against international players before, but with German players – this will be a first.” He adds, “I hope many aspiring players of this sport come to cheer us on and pick up pointers from the match.”
German champions Hannes Buchner and Dominik Richter weren’t in the city at the time and City Express caught up with Buchner in an email interview to find out more about the duo. For starters, they’ve been together for 12 years now. Having competed in over hundred tournaments together, which is a record in itself, their biggest achievement is placing ninth at the national level in the German Beach Volleyball Championship in 2007.
■ Have you played beach volleyball in the Asian tropics? Chennai can be very hot usually, though it is a little overcast at the moment
No, never and yes, we are a bit afraid about the temperature and humidity.
I was in Portugal for the two last weeks where it was more than 30 degrees but low humidity. That was hopefully good training, but we will see.
■ Beach volleyball is in its infancy in Chennai. What is the scene like in Germany?
Germany is actually the number three nation in beach volleyball behind Brazil and USA, even more after the men’s gold medal at the Olympic games in London. Surprisingly, Germany is not really famous for its beaches and beach temperatures, and is known for winter sports. This year, we played a snow volleyball tournament which we won.
■ Are you looking forward to your exhibition match against the Indian duo? Have you met or spoken to them earlier?
Yes, definitely. We are really looking forward to meet them and play against them.
■ Any plans to experience native Indian culture while you’re here in India, or is it just about teaching and playing?
We will take the chance and travel around for almost two weeks. That’s quite short, but hey, it’s better than not experiencing anything at all.
■ With our beaches and large population, do you think beach volleyball can be popularised as a major sport here?
From our German point of view, yes. It is a fantastic sport and we love it. Beach volleyball is a perfect mix of tactics, athletics and technique.
However, every country is different. A friend of mine introduced me to cricket and I really liked it, it’s almost as good as beach volleyball!
■ What are your plans on the professional front? What are you training for at the moment?
A few weeks ago, we lost the final of the Bavarian Championship. So we will try to win it next year. Also, in winter, we’ll play some indoor beach volleyball tournaments and at least one snow volleyball tournament.
■ They say beach volleyball is as much fun as it is a strenuous sport. Your thoughts
Fun, hmmm...yes and no. Beach volleyball is also about good weather, holidays, good music and aesthetic, so that’s fun. But it is also hard daily training. In this sense, it is not different from other sports. Winning is fun and losing is bad.
■ Have you considered trying your hand at local sports?
As I mentioned above, I tried cricket before. I have my own cricket bat at home. But to be honest, I rarely play.