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2017-01-20 16:32:00 CET

Exclusive: Morph Bowes to be German women’s new head coach

The German federation have finally found two coaches as centralization kicks in – a Swatch Major Series exclusive

Just two months ago, Imornefe ‘Morph’ Bowes showed up in the movie ‘The way to Gold’, the documentary detailing the Olympic victory of Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst. The 40-year-old from Glasgow is the boyfriend of Laura: that’s what you saw in the movie - but beyond that, he’s a very experienced beach volleyball coach. Starting this season he will bring his knowledge to the home country of his girlfriend as the head coach of German women.

After the Olympic Games the German federation decided to implement a new system. The athletes had organized their own training and preparation for many years – but now the set-up has been brought in house and will be centralized. Four teams per gender will practice together in Hamburg and have been allocated two coaches each. Since January 9, Bowes has been working and practicing with the women despite the fact he hasn’t signed a contract yet. By his side, he has assistant coach Tilo Backhaus, the 30-year-old who worked with Germans team Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler for four years before they finished their careers at the end of last season.

Bowes, who has been head coach of the Netherlands women since 2012, is used to centralization. In the Netherlands, the national teams have practiced since 2009 together in The Hague, a system supported by the federation. Before that, Bowes was coach at the University of Bath in England and taught undergraduate programs including Coach Education and Sports Development, Sport and Exercise Science and the Foundation degree in Sport Performance. He was also coach at Port Glasgow High prior to coaching the Great Britain Volleyball for the 2012 London Olympics.

Morph with Madelein Meppelink (left), Marleen Van Iersel (right) and Ninja Priesterjahn at a training camp in Side, Turkey, in 2015. Credit: beach-volleyball.deMorph with Madelein Meppelink (left), Marleen Van Iersel (right) and Ninja Priesterjahn at a training camp in Side, Turkey, in 2015. Credit: beach-volleyball.de

Laura Ludwig will not be coached by her boyfriend

“We have worked together now for two weeks and I have to say, he is a very good man,” Backhaus says. “Good coach,” wrote Julia Großner and Nadja Glenzke on their Facebook page. Großner, who will start at the Fort Lauderdale Major with Kira Walkenhorst, and Glenzke, began training at the start of the year, moving from Berlin to Hamburg, just like Victoria Bieneck (Berlin) and Isabel Schneider (Leverkusen), who switched their bases to Hamburg, where they have been selected for the national squad.

Together off court but not on court: Laura Ludwig and Morph Bowes. Credit: DIE NORMTogether off court but not on court: Laura Ludwig and Morph Bowes. Credit: DIE NORM

But Laura Ludwig, who Morph moved in with after the Olympics, is practicing in the same hall, but she doesn’t won’t have her boyfriend as her coach. Laura and Kira have an exceptional regulation with the German federation. They go on working with their own coaches Jürgen Wagner and Helke Classen, who helped them to great success over the past few years. “I am very happy that we are outside the whole shake-up,” Kira said in December. “Especially when I see how little information the other teams have and how difficult it is to plan with that.”

Borger/Kozuch and Laboureur/Sude are missing in the system

Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude and Karla Borger/Margareta Kozuch are also missing in the system. They didn’t come to Hamburg until now.

As the FIVB World Tour starts on February 7 with the Fort Lauderdale Major, they organized their training and preparation themselves, just like they did before. Chantal and Julia will travel to a training camp in Fort Lauderdale, while Karla and Maggie are in Tenerife. Both teams are practicing with different coaches. The decision for the new coaches came too late for them and, until now, they couldn’t find a solution with the federation, which is reasonable for both sides.

Men head to Fuerteventura

As a result, Morph and Tilo will coach two women’s teams, whereas new men’s head coach Martin Olejnak has four teams, but no assistant. He will get help from Eric Koreng and Bernd Schlesinger, who heads up the Hamburg base, when the whole men’s team fly to Fuerteventura for training on Monday. Schlesinger thinks it’s quite possible that this compromise solution will last for the a few weeks.

Furthermore, Bernd is hoping that the two missing women teams will come to Hamburg one day. “The men made reservations from the beginning,” he explains. “The time has been simply too short to persuade the athletes to join the new system,” says Bernd. “The German federation is not known for its communication skills.”

If the constellation with just the two teams continues they will nominate two young teams in Hamburg to fill the entire group.

That question is how useful the centralization strategy is among the women when three of the best teams are missing.

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