"I miss football so badly"
skrapid.at: Didi, all the best for the future! You recently turned 49. Despite the current circumstances, did you still manage to celebrate a bit?
Didi Kühbauer: Thanks! Yes, just at home of course, with my close family, those who I live together with. Nothing else is possible right now, we all have to be disciplined as a society. But I was very happy about all the congratulations I received by phone and online.
It is an exceptional situation for all of us, and we've all had to learn how to deal with it. How are you dealing with this new, current reality?
Everyday life has already changed a lot, for all of us. You're mostly in isolation, doing only the bare necessities like shopping. We all had to learn to deal with this, it is not easy for many, but we’ve got to accept it. We can't change it, but we have to show discipline so that we can return to conditions that are as normal as possible very soon. For that reason, it's important to at least stay in contact with one another.
For example, with the team. The first virtual training sessions with the players have started in the last few days, via video conference from home. Were you involved, too?
I wasn't there, but I know how it works, because I keep up to date with our athletics coach Alex Steinbichler, who runs [the online coaching sessions]. I fully trust him that everything is going well and that everyone is pulling together. I have my own conferences with my coaching team where we discuss, analyse and put things down on paper. I also contact the players regularly by phone or video. Keeping in touch is also very important for us, too.
Something you mentioned before is that as a trainer you have a lot of ideas, and therefore you want to get things moving quickly, but of course that’s not possible at the moment - how much does that hurt?
A lot, I miss football so badly; getting together every day, going out onto the pitch, the processes, all the communication with each other, that's what I miss the most. We have a really good team, from the camaraderie to the togetherness. When you’re not able to operate in a familiar and comfortable environment, of course you lose out on a lot of things, but we knew that already.
In times like these, you also get a lot of space for reflection. Do you also learn to appreciate things differently and not to take them for granted?
Of course that is possible on the whole, but for me personally not much has changed, because I have always been passionate about my work as a football coach and all the other roles I have had in this business. I've always known not to take for granted what we have and what we do, and therefore I've always been able to value things in the right way for myself.
Until recently, we were heading in the right direction in the championship: The regular season was finished and everything was fired up for the first big clash in the championship group, which would have taken us to Salzburg. Then suddenly, everything changed - what was your experience of that period?
Yes, we were going in a very good direction, because not only did we have a positive start in spring (two wins, two draws, unbeaten in the last nine games in total), but also a good end to the autumn. Then the current situation began to occur, which of course we in football have had to go along with as well. At first, you don't really realise what's happening. At that time you thought that you only knew those kind of situations from science-fiction movies, but then you realise, 'this is reality'. You have to learn to deal with that, but as I said before, we are all very disciplined and that gives us hope that we’ll be able to get out on the pitch again soon.
That's what you’re working towards as a goal; it's still pretty uncertain as to when it will be able to happen, but is that the target you’re keeping in your sights?
We all hope that we can be back on the pitch at some point, either in small groups or as a whole team - depending on what the conditions allow. There will come a time when everything starts up again and we want to get back to normality and be ready as soon as possible. That is what we are working towards. At the moment the situation doesn't allow for it, but it will get better again, and then we hope that we won't have to experience anything like this ever again. But when we're back, you’ll see pretty quickly that we haven't forgotten how to play football during this time of great sacrifice.
Photo Credit: GEPA Pictures, Red Ring Shots.