Interview with Hamilton Coach Mario Maschke...

July 28th 2002


By: Joe Valvasori 

 JV: After seven games in the season, the Hamilton Thunder is currently in third place of the Western Conference.  What is your target for this season?

 MM: Well, when I start a season with a team I want to win every game, period. I am too competitive to have multiple targets. Any other focus is not a target in my opinion. I do not like to lose, but our targets are not just the to win the games.

 JV: What are the other targets?

 MM: Our job is to secure the future of the club and the team. To do this we have to build up a team for the long run. We need to think about the next generation. We have to develop a healthy structure of experienced players and young prospects to secure the second and the third season.

 JV: Isnít it dangerous to target the championship while developing young players at the same time?

 MM: Nobody said that we are playing for the championship. We think from game to game. We work with young players, which means we sometimes lack experience and maturity. That lack of experience and maturity will unfortunately cause losses; only through those losses and through mistakes can the younger players learn.

 JV: But when you want to win every game, you want to win the championship, right?

 MM: If we are in the final, and we win that, than we are the champions. Any team who wins the final deserves to be the champion. I would be very happy if we were that team, but we still have a long hard way to go.

 JV: You have also some very experienced players on your squad like Dino Perri, John Sozio, Jerry Cipriani, Salvatore Borgh, etc.

 MM: Of course, these are the players you need to have in a team like ours. They have to lead the youngsters on the field, and teach them professionalism. The younger players are learning from their experience, so this is working superbly, and our younger players appreciate their help.

 JV: How often the players having practice?

 MM: I would love to practice twice a day with them; unfortunately we have still to develop that kind of professional basics. It takes some time. We practice five times a week in the moment.

 JV: Why can you not train more often with the players?

 MM: The CPSL is a relatively young league. The Hamilton Thunder a very young club. Most of the players have a regular job. Many players on our team are still in school. It takes three or four years to develop a club like we want to build. In the future plans we are thinking about full professionals, but for now we have to take it like it is.

 JV: Who is the star on your team?

 MM: We donít have stars

 JV: Every team has key players?

 MM: Key players, but no stars!  My philosophy is that every player has a certain kind of responsibility. It doesnít matter how old or how young he is. We are only strong as a team, and that team will be only successful if every single one, coach, assistant coach, manager, player, goalie, doctor etc. is doing his job as best as he can. Certain players have more responsibilities than other players. If you want, those are the key-players.

JV: O.K. so who are they?

MM: I donít give names, the player knows and I know, that is enough!

JV: In the first three home games, the Hamilton Thunder drew a lot of spectators to the games; do you think that the attendance can be developed?

MM: It was fantastic. I think we already beat the CPSL record for attendance twice. That is great. I really believe we can develop that. The people in Hamilton are fantastic fans and really love the sport. We have to make sure that we have a quality future orientated product on the field. If we will play in the top of the league, and the people see a good game with shows and family entertainment, I believe the numbers of supporters will grow. But also that takes time and we have to communicate with our fans, giving them more background information about the team, the players, the targets and the philosophy.

JV: Is the A- league a target for the Club?

MM: The A-league is for sure an interesting level of soccer, no question. But that league is also much more expensive than the CPSL. The CPSL developed in the last few years quite well, and the gap between the CPSL and A-league is not that big anymore. I really believe that the top teams of the CPSL could play also in the A-league. We are playing the first year in the CPSL and we have to prove first that we can compete here.

JV: Is Hamilton one of the top teams?

MM: That I can answer after the season.

JV: Do you plan for the long run something in the A-league?

MM: No, at least not now. In my opinion the CPSL has a fantastic concept, and is growing steadily. If the CPSL is following this concept, I believe that in three or four years we will have a fantastic professional league countrywide with a couple of conferences in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and B.C. Secondly, this is also a business decision, and you should ask the manager or the owner about their plans.

JV: When you compare the CPSL to the European leagues, what level of play is here?

MM: It is not so easy to compare the CPSL with any European league. It is a different structure. The clubs here are working with relatively low budgets. Some third and fourth division teams in Germany have a higher budget than any CPSL team. We can only compare the CPSL to the North American league system.

JV: Lets compare the MLS, A-league and CPSL.

MM: The MLS is out of range right now. I believe that 2-3 teams from the CPSL could play on the A-league level. I also believe, that the CPSL is at a higher level than the PDL.

JV: Could Hamilton play in the A-league right now?

MM: No that would be too early. I believe we could be a very good PDL team, but that is also not our plan.

JV: What is the plan?

MM: We want to play in the CPSL. In our first year we want to prove our concept, building up a team with future sport and business orientation. In the second step we want to build up the business side of the organization as well. We want to build a network with sponsors, investors and other partners from North America and Europe.

JV: And then?

MM: We will think about the next step when we get there.

JV: What do you mean by your business orientation?

MM: That is a question for the management, not for me.

JV: What are these sport orientations that you talked about?

MM: We want to build up good relationships with other professional teams and organizations in North America and Europe. Our target is to develop a soccer club with a great reputation in Canada, US and Europe. We want to be a part of soccer development in Canada. We want to help develop Canadian soccer on a higher professional level.

JV: What is missing in Canadian soccer, how could real professional soccer be developed in Canada?

MM: I believe there are too many totally different opinions about it.   This is not a question for me to answer; Holger Osiek should answer your question.

JV: What is your opinion?

MM: My opinion is not important.

JV: Do you ever talk to Holger?

MM: Once in a while, if we have a chance.

JV: But what will you do with the Hamilton Thunder to develop soccer?

MM: I think I answered that already. It is important that everyone is pulling the same strings and following the same directions. There is one target, so lets go one way together and develop a 100% professional league. We with the Thunder have to follow our plans and targets as a single club, but we will also fully support any global target to develop professional soccer in Canada.

JV: What do you think about the talent in Canada?

MM: The talent here is more than enough. I think that the youth system is working well, up to the point where talented players have to develop more specific soccer. There are always things to improve, but this is same all over the world.

JV: Why it is not working then?

MM: It works, and in the last few years very well. Look how many Canadian players were developed enough to play at a high level. Many players are playing in European top-clubs. I can name you 10-15 Canadian players in European professional soccer on the highest possible level, and other players will follow very soon. It was never like this before!

JV: What has to be changed then?

MM: First of all they are playing in Europe on a high level. We have to give them the opportunity to play in Canada on a high level, with the same financial interest. There needs to be a competitive professional league. Secondly, too many talents are just talents. A professional personality, commitment, the focus in pro-soccer has do be developed with the players and parents much earlier in the players life, and professional teaching in and of the field has to be placed in younger ages.

JV: Is the CPSL an option for a league like that, and can the CPSL handle a better structure for the players?

MM: It could be done, but not by the league itself. It is the clubís responsibility as well. If the big companies are seeing the potential of the CPSL, and the business opportunities behind it, the CPSL has a big chance to become that league. When it comes down to player development, the clubs have to do it.

JV: Does the Hamilton Thunder also have some future prospects that could make it in Europe?

MM: In fact, we have several players with European experience already. Seven players on our roster already played in Europe on a high senior level or youth level. The problem is they all returned to Canada. We have to find out the reason for their return, and have to add the missing points. If we can do that, I am sure we will have a lot of young prospects with European intentions.

JV: What players are you talking about?

MM: I will not mention any names. Some of those players are still quite young, and need a couple of more years to grow, but I believe we have prospects in our club, yes of course.

JV: Should this be a target of all CPSL clubs, to bring more young player into the league?

MM: Fact is, there are many young players in the CPSL, not just for the Thunder. I think that this is a step in the right direction, and I hope that we continuing that way.

JV: To finish, I have 20 quick-fire questions.

MM: O.K.

JV: What do you think is your strength as a coach?

MM: Thatís tough, I think willpower.

JV: What is you biggest weakness?

MM: I am not consistent enough.

JV: What makes a team successful?

MM: Well many things - no stars, teamwork, harmony, a team target, communication and trust are very important.

JV: Why are some good teams not successful?

MM: Stars with a star attitude, no teamwork, no harmony, no target, no communication, no trust.

JV: Who is your favourite international player?

MM: Zidane

JV: Why Zidane?

MM: He is the most complete player in the world.

JV: What is your favourite international team?

MM: Bayern Munich

JV: Why Bayern Munich?

MM: The best management, the best professional directors, the best philosophy and they are very important for soccer in Germany.

JV: Your favourite international coach?

MM: Ralf Rangnick (Hanover 96)

JV: Why Ralf Rangnick?

MM: He came from the amateur side, was never a professional player. I like his philosophy, he is honest and straight, and he always gives the youth a chance, and believes in what he is doing. He was my teacher during my A-license course in Germany and caught my attention with his philosophy. I like it and it works!

JV: Only quick answers please!

MM: O.K. I will try my best (laughed).

JV: What are you  afraid of?

MM: Stupidities, because they cannot be anticipated.

JV: What you are not afraid of?

MM: Hmmm, mistakes, because they are correctable?

JV: What people are you afraid of?

MM: Stupid people.

JV: What people you are not afraid of?

MM: People better than me.

JV: What is your favourite movie and male actor?

MM: Nicolas Cage in ďCity of Angelsď.

JV: What is your favourite movie and female actor?

MM: Meg Ryan in all her movies.

JV: What is your favourite meal?

MM: I have so many Italians and Croatians around me that I have to favour their kitchen. No really I like it.

JV: Who will win the CPSL League Championship 2002?

MM: I knew that you would ask that. Ottawa is the favourite.

JV: Thank you for your time, it was nice to talk to you.

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