A Presidents view: Interview with Dr Gerhard Zimmermann
07 May 2012 at 11:30 | Published by: Hans | Views: 8810 | News search
Gerhard Zimmermann during his recent visit in new WMF member nation Israel (Photo by WMF 2012)
Interview with Dr. Gerhard Zimmermann, WMF President, Germany
This interview was done the 06th of May 2012. Interviewer is Hans Bergström (HB).
HB: First of all thank you for letting Minigolfnews interview you about your first time as WMF President. Can you share how your first time as the WMF President with the new Board has been?
GZ: As all of us should know the most members of WMF board were newly elected last August. So the first period was dominated by settling the most important issues so that the daily business is running well in future. During the first weeks we had furthermore to replace the newly elected finance manager, who could not continue from private reasons.
Also Bengt Svensson, the office manager of WMF headquarters is new in his position and took over now the current issues coming in from all over the world. Right now we run an extraordinary Delegates Conference to change seat, applicable law and place of jurisdiction from Bern / Switzerland to Gothenburg / Sweden. From that point WMF again will be a well organized official body, which can go forward with worldwide development.
HB: Recently you were visiting the new WMF Member Kosovo and a friendly game against neighbor Croatia in Pristina. Can you tell us about this experience and the development of Minigolf in these two countries?
GZ: Kosovo and Croatia are accepted as new members since Delegates Conference in August 2011 in Stockholm. In Pristina I could notice that both members are very engaged to develop our minigolf sport, where the friendly match on a wonderful adventure golf course was a key for direct contacts between the two members and WMF. Kosovo is a very new state fighting for worldwide recognition as a nation. WMF is one of the first international sport federations accepting Kosovo as a full member and the politicians and the sport officials of Kosovo are very proud of it.
In Croatia different old courses are meanwhile renovated, two big new projects are close to a final schedule and a club structure is the next step, on which the Croatian federation is already working on very intensively.
HB: Last weekend you were also visiting another new member Israel. Can you tell us about Minigolf in Israel and the outlook of the development of the sport in Israel?
GZ: In Israel only a few small courses exists from former times. But there are new plans for huge projects in different cities, where minigolf as event location will be established. Together with our friends from the Israeli Federation we could see the project plans on paper, the respective real sites and visit three mayors of big cities, the ministry of tourism in Jerusalem and the head office for labor sport organization in Tel Aviv organizing sport events all over Israel.
The enthusiastic plan is to arrange an international minigolf event parallel to the Jewish multisport event, the Maccabiah Games 2013, where top minigolf players of our community will be invited and also the participants of the Maccabiah Games will take part. This event could be a key for our new member to be well known as a sport all over Israel and for WMF to come into contact with different new countries all over the world as potential WMF members.
HB: WMF are planning to move the legal seat from Switzerland to Sweden. What is the reason for this change?
GZ: After last elections WMF has no office in Switzerland anymore, which is by the Swiss law mandatory for keeping the seat in Switzerland. So we decided to propose to our members by the running extraordinary Delegates Conference with postal voting to change the seat to Sweden, where the new WMF headquarters are located. This also will lead to the new comfortable situation, where instead of Swiss law the Swedish law is applicable for all legal WMF issues, which is easier to understand for the most European member nations and the board members as well compared with the Swiss law on the experience of the last years.
HB: For the second time there will be an official WMF event on an MOS course, the WMF World Adventure Golf Masters in Hastings UK. Can you tell us your view of the development of the MOS part of Minigolf?
GZ: The decision in 2007 to integrate Minigolf Open Standard officially as a new system in our WMF rulebook had the main goal to spread minigolf worldwide especially in countries, where a lot of adventure golf courses already exist.
To avoid to plan integration only on the paper we now offer different official international a-class tournaments on MOS courses to get more familiar with the organisation of events on our new minigolf system and to learn, if any rule adaptions are recommended for this type of courses. In 2012 there will be tournaments in Hastings/UK, Moscow/Russia and Pristina/Kosovo whereas in 2013 an adventure golf tour is going to be scheduled.
HB: WMF has recently made an agreement with Minigolfnews to become the official WMF Media Partner. Can you tell our readers the background from the WMF side on making this agreement?
GZ: WMF needs more media attention to reach our goals to get new members and to spread worldwide. Minigolfnews is as an established, well informed minigolf partner our number ONE inside the minigolf community to be connected from media reasons and the benefits will be on both sides.
Additionally our new media manager will together with his media committee arrange more media contacts, e.g. WMF subscribed a contract with the international sport media agency SportCal, which gives us the opportunity to be involved in the international sports news with 10 press releases per year.
Furthermore we plan to be more active on new media in cooperation with the organizers of international championships of WMF. Minigolfnews is an important part of this overall media plan, which is needed very much for the further WMF development.
HB: The main event arranged by WMF this year is the Youth World Championships in Bad Münder. Can you share with our younger readers about how the preparations are proceeding and what they might expect for August in Bad Münder?
GZ: The youth of the minigolf world will meet two times in Bad Münder in 2012, first at the Nations Cup at the end of May and second time at the Youth World Championships in August just after the Olympic Games in London.
As the leader of the organisation committee in Bad Münder I try to work very hard on the best possible preparation for these top events. Bad Münder is a lovely small town close to Hannover, which supports the events with all channels.
So you are very welcome and you will feel as honoured guests of the town Bad Münder, the regional minigolf sport federation of Lower Saxony and of the German federation DMV. Especially for our young minigolf community all over the world we will respect the needs of active social media work to be always available also for our friends, who can’t be themselves directly at the events. We just promise to work hard, to fulfil the expectations and to create a small cluster of friendship in our busy world.
HB: Recently the Minigolf Community shared a great loss in the tragic death of Marcus Wüthrich. What will be in your memories when you think of Marcus in the future?
GZ: With Marcus we lost a very engaged official, a well respected international referee, an internationally well known minigolf player and simply a close friend. It was an absolutely personal need for me to be personally present at the thanksgiving ceremony at the cemetery in Burgdorf to say finally goodbye to Marcus.
After his passing away we are faced with a lack of officials even becoming bigger than before. Marcus will always stay in my memories as a successful supporter of the minigolf movement on all levels.
HB: You are soon off to Quebec, Canada for the SportAccord Conference. Can you tell our readers why it’s important for WMF to be part of SportAccord?
GZ: SportAccord is the worldwide umbrella organization of international sport federations, where WMF is a member since almost 10 years. This platform is very helpful and efficient for all sport issues worldwide. WMF benefits by personal contacts, by support programs of SportAccord and by the huge network, we simply have for all important issues a competent partner to take contact with and to get very reliable information.
At the upcoming SportAccord Convention in Quebec WMF is present with an own table, equipped with our WMF banner free of charge to start up personal discussions with a lot of potential partners. WMF has to learn, that improvement with media and sponsors is based on lobbying and networking, where we still have a highly visible lack.
HB: It seems like you are always traveling in the name of Minigolf. How many travel days do you have each year?
GZ: Indeed I travel a lot for minigolf, but also for business and for private. So it is not easy to count the travel days, which are especially for minigolf. Focus for minigolf travelling is to visit the new WMF members and candidates to give them support and ideas how to develop minigolf in their country.
Also I always could notice very clear, that a new member feels extremely pleased if the WMF president comes for a personal visit to learn their situation and their concerns. Some new members are in the pipeline again and furthermore the Asian Federation including their members needs support as well for developing a minigolf infrastructure in Asia.
HB: By the colleagues that have worked with you in WMF and the DMV you are known for thorough and detailed preparations and follow up. Where do you find your motivation on working as much as you do for the Minigolf Sport?
GZ: In the period as a minigolf player I had the pleasure to have many many successful and nice moments and I have a lot of positive memories about this time. Later on I changed from a player to an internationally acting coach in different federations, to a sport official and finally to the position of president in Bavarian federation, in DMV and in WMF. By this engagement I try to give something back to the minigolf world. It is my personal characteristic to arrange most things very strategic and in details including a follow-up of each plan. From my point of view it is an important part of success to work in this way and to go ahead as a well organized and motivated leader to have as many friends as possible to follow this movement.
HB: What have been your greatest moments as a Minigolf leader for your country and for WMF?
GZ: To be honest the most emotional situation in my international minigolf life was the surprising and overwhelming victories of the first World Championships titles with the men’s team of Switzerland as well as the individual titles of Miranda Graf and Raffael Noesberger just one year after changing as head coach from Germany to Switzerland. Some months ago we had the 20-years celebration of these titles to meet all old friends again. The most impressive issue as leader of DMV and WMF is the permanent development of the minigolf movement with implementing new ideas and getting more and more officials involved in the daily work to develop minigolf.
HB: And the worst moments?
GZ: To speak for the most minigolf officials who take over responsibilities in their clubs, countries or in WMF, it is sometimes a pity to be attacked by any persons, who can’t call themselves friends of minigolf anymore. Positive criticism in the sense of optimizing different issues and procedures is always very welcome, but bad attacks with mostly not real arguments and untrue facts lead to a demotivation of our officials, who would better use their full power for a positive development.
For me personally attacks in the past have always been on middle and long term simply the best possible motivation to continue with my personal engagement, giving me the impression that it is very necessary to avoid that negatively influenced persons get more influence to destroy our minigolf sport. It is worth to point out, that the percentage of destructive persons in our minigolf community is very very low, which also should allow us to focus on the cooperation with the positive thinking minigolfers all over the world.
HB: Finally when do you think we will see a world championship be played outside Europe?
GZ: As already mentioned above, it is one of my goals to spread minigolf worldwide. That also means it is the willingness and also WMF’s duty to work on World Championships outside Europe for one of the next events. In the current financial crisis it seems not very easy to get many players to such an event to arrange a big success. What we need first to prepare this planned event in future is to develop our media structure, to find sponsors interested in our main events and to support our members on the Asian and American continents to be prepared to organize such an event under the umbrella of WMF.
HB: Thank you and good luck in the future!
GZ: Thanks for giving me the opportunity for this interview by you as our minigolf media partner number ONE. We are looking forward to a very fruitful cooperation.