Über viele Jahre hinweg habe ich für Leichtathletik Events „all over the world“ gearbeitet. Für kleine Meetings und große Meisterschaften. Die Leichtathletik und die Leichtathletikfamilie sind irgendwann ein Teil meines Lebens geworden und deshalb ist es mir ein sehr großes Anliegen, über die Leichtathletik zu schreiben und zu berichten. Kürzlich habe ich bereits ein Interview mit der niederländischen Leichtathletin Ronéll Rosier geführte. Heute möchte ich Ralph Mouchbahani vorstellen. Er ist Coach, Dozent, Projektleiter und vieles mehr. Ralph zeichnet sich aus durch seine Zuverlässigkeit, ist eine schillernde Persönlichkeit und führt ein sehr interessantes Berufsleben:
For many years I have worked for athletics events “all over the world”. For small meetings and big championships. Athletics and the athletics family have become a part of my life at some point and therefore it is very important to me to write and report about athletics. I recently had an interview with the Dutch athlete Ronéll Rosier. Today I would like to introduce Ralph Mouchbahani. He is a coach, lecturer, project manager and much more. Ralph is characterized by his reliability, he is a colorful personality and Leads a very interesting professional life:
Hier ein kurzer Auszug über einige Stationen und Tätigkeiten von Ralph, so ist er u. a. :
- Herausgeber und Mitherausgeber des CECS-Programms für Weltsportler im Lehrplan und Lehrplan des Trainerausbildungs- und -zertifizierungssystems (CECS)
- Dozent und Projektleiter für den Deutschen Sportbund und das Auswärtige Amt
- Berater von Verbänden bei der Vorbereitung auf Meisterschaften in Bezug auf Training, wissenschaftliche Unterstützung und Vorbereitungslager, Wettbewerbsprogramme und Sportprojekten
- Berater und Betreuer von Trainern
Here is a short excerpt about some of the stations and activities of Ralph, he is:
- Editor and co-editor of the CECS program for world athletes in the curriculum and curriculum of the Trainer Education and Certification System (CECS)
- Lecturer and project manager for the German Sports Confederation and the Foreign Office
- Advisor for associations in preparation for championships relating to training, scientific assistance and preparatory camps, competitive programs and sports projects
- Consultant and supervisor of trainers
Photo from Ralph Mouchbahani
Stell dich einfach kurz vor, wer du bist und was du machst. Unter anderem hast du in Köln Sport studiert und die Deutsche Schule in Beirut besucht, bist also global und multikulturell unterwegs und sprichst mehrere Sprachen, wie Deutsch, Englisch, Französisch und Arabisch.
Geboren bin ich im August 1958 in Ägypten und aufgewachsen in Baden-Württemberg. Ich habe das Glück und Privileg gehabt, mein Hobby zum Beruf zu machen, dabei auch noch sehr erfolgreich zu sein und meinen Lebensunterhalt damit verdienen zu können. Das ist meiner Meinung nach eine Grundvoraussetzung, wenn man sich Gedanken für eine Berufswahl macht. Man muss das, was man macht, immer mit Freude tun und sein Bestes geben. Alles andere kommt von selbst.
Just introduce yourself briefly who you are and what you do. Among other things, you studied sports in Cologne and attended the German School in Beirut, so you are global and multicultural and speak several languages, such as German, English, French and Arabic.
I was born in Egypt in August 1958 and grew up in Baden-Württemberg. I was fortunate and privileged to be able to turn my hobby into a job, to be very successful at the same time and to be able to earn my living with it. In my opinion, this is a basic requirement when considering a career choice. You always have to enjoy what you do and do your best. Everything else comes by itself.
An welchen Projekten arbeitest du aktuell?
Das sind einige. Ich habe immer mehrere Sachen parallel am Laufen gehabt, zum Leidwesen derer, die dafür kein Verständnis aufbringen können. Meine Kritiker von damals sind meine Neider von heute.
Ich bin selbstständig, Freiberufler, Entrepreneur, wie man das auch immer nennen mag, etwas mit dem man hier in Deutschland nicht viel anfangen kann. Ich bin Fachmann für angewandten Unsinn! Gerade überarbeite ich mit 8 anderen Kollegen die Trainerausbildung für den Weltverband, ich coache 5 Athleten, um den Bezug zur Praxis nicht zu verlieren und bin in der Weiterbildung, eine der größten Schwachstellen des Sports, sehr aktiv.
What projects are you currently working on?
There are a few. I’ve always had several projects at the same time, to the chagrin of those who cannot understand them. My critics from back then are my envious people today.
I am self-employed, freelancer, entrepreneur, whatever you like to call it, something many people don’t get along with in Germany. I am a specialist in applied nonsense! I am currently revising the trainer training for the World Athletics Association with 8 other colleagues, I am coaching 5 athletes so that I don’t lose touch with the practice and I am very active in further education, one of the greatest weaknesses of the sport in general.
Photocredit by Ralph Mouchbahani
Du wurdest gerade zum Projektleiter für Leichtathletikcoaches aus aller Welt ernannt. Was kann man sich darunter vorstellen? Und welche Ziele hast du für die Love Athletes Plattform?
Wir haben aus der Erfahrung heraus festgestellt, dass sich der Sport selbstverwaltet, sich abhängig macht von Drittmitteln, nicht mehr ad hoc Entscheidungen treffen kann, die im Leistungssport unabdingbar sind und leider wie die Politik, keine Verantwortung übernimmt für sein Handeln. Daraus ist uns der Gedanke gekommen, dass wir unser Schicksal selbst in die Hand nehmen müssen. Wir wollen, dass sich die Bedingungen für Athleten und Trainer grundlegend verbessern, der Beruf sowohl für Athleten und Trainer Anerkennung findet. Das geht nur, wenn man es selbst in die Hand nimmt. Ich bin für das “Coaches Project” zuständig.
You have just been appointed as project manager for athletics coaches from all over the world. What does that mean? And what are your goals for the “Love Athletes” platform?
We have experienced, that sport manages itself, makes itself dependent on third-party funding, can no longer make ad hoc decisions that are indispensable in competitive sport and unfortunately, like politics, does not take responsibility for its actions. This led us to overthink, that we must take action. We want that conditions for athletes and coaches fundamentally improve and that it is recognized that being a coach resp. an athlete is a real profession. That is only possible if you take it into your own hands. I am responsible for the “Coaches Project”.
Die Leichtathletik hat sich meiner Meinung nach in den letzten Jahren sehr schwer damit getan, sich zukunftsorientiert weiterzuentwickeln. Einst war sie die Königin aller Sportarten, heute tut sie sich schwer damit, TV-Zeiten und Werbepartner zu bekommen. Ich fand, dass die Leichtathletik-Europameisterschaften in Berlin ein neuer Ansatz war, der auch beim Publikum gut ankam. Was müsste sich deiner Meinung nach ändern, damit die Leichtathletik wieder mehr in den Fokus von Werbepartnern, TV-Zeiten rückt und natürlich auch wieder mehr Publikum gewinnt? Was können die Coaches und Athleten dazu beitragen.
Es ist nicht nur die Leichtathletik, es ist der Sport insgesamt, der sich schwertut, weil seine Strukturen sich der Weiterentwicklung nicht angepasst haben und es immer noch nicht tun. Was vor 70 Jahren gut war, ist für damalige Verhältnisse richtig gewesen, aber leider für die heutige Zeit nicht mehr. Man kann eine Entwicklung nicht aufhalten, was man aber kann, ist daraus das Beste zu machen.
Wir reagieren nur, ergreifen keine Eigeninitiative, um uns zu positionieren, Gehör zu verschaffen, Verantwortung zu übernehmen und für unsere Sache zu kämpfen. Der Sport hat sich zu sehr in der Wohlfühlzone eingerichtet. Was die momentane Pandemie gemacht hat, ist im Prinzip das, was alles nicht funktioniert, an den Tag zu bringen.
Ich habe das in der internationalen Kooperation gelernt, man kann sich noch so gut vorbereiten und Pläne ausarbeiten, am Ende muss man innovativ und kreativ handeln und dabei erfolgreich sein. Punkt!!! Genau das macht der Sport bzw. die Leichtathletik nicht. Er eilt dem Gehorsam nach, reagiert und lähmt sich dabei nur.
Was Coaches und Athleten dazu beitragen können, um auf den letzten Teil des Statements/der Frage zu antworten ist, was ich schon beantwortet habe, sich loszulösen, ihr Schicksal selbst in die Hand nehmen, was nicht bedeuten soll, gegen ihre Verbände vorzugehen. Das eigene Handeln und etwas selbst in die Hand zu nehmen, das ist die beste Empfehlung und daran arbeiten wir gerade.
In my opinion, athletics had difficulties to develop in a future-oriented manner in the recent years. Once athletics was the queen of all sports, today it’s struggling to get TV times and advertising partners. I think that the European Athletics Championships in Berlin were a new approach that was also well received by the audience. In your opinion, what would have to change so that athletics moves back again into the focus of advertising partners, TV times and of course gains more spectators again? What can the coaches and athletes contribute?
It is not just athletics, it is the sport as a whole that is struggling because its structures have not adapted to the development and still do not. What was good 70 years ago was working at that time, but unfortunately not at the present day. You can’t stop a development, but what you can do is make the best of it.
We only react and don’t take action and give ourselves a voice, we are not ready to take responsibility and to fight for our cause. Sport has established itself too much in the comfort zone. What the current pandemic has done is, in principle, to bring to light everything that is not working.
I learned that while working in international cooperations: no matter how well you are prepared and how good you work out your plans, in the end you have to act innovatively and creatively and be successful in doing so. That is exactly what sport or athletics does not do. The sport slows itself down.
What coaches and athletes can do – to answer the last part of the statement / question – is, what I have already said: to break away, to take action, which does mean to take action against their own associations. Taking your own actions and something into your own hands is the best recommendation and we are currently working on it.
Veranstaltungen in jeglicher Form sind ja gerade nur bedingt oder gar nicht möglich. Auch die Leichtathletik hat unter dem Aussetzen von Events, vor allem der Großevents, wie die Olympischen Spiele, Meetings etc. gelitten. 2020 wurden die Leichtathletik-Europameisterschaften, die in Paris stattgefunden hätten, komplett abgesagt. Für einen Athleten ist das eine Katastrophe, da er sich ja gezielt auf diese Events vorbereitet. Wie gehst du selbst mit dieser Situation um und welche Tipps gibst du deinen Athleten? Gibt es eine Möglichkeit, ihnen Mut zu machen?
Wir müssen zurück zu den Basics finden und lernen aus der Situation das Beste zu machen. Wir müssen das in die Hand nehmen, was wir selbst beeinflussen können und mit dem umgehen lernen, was außerhalb unserer Kontrolle liegt.
Actually, events in any form are only possible at the moment to a limited extent or not at all. Athletics has also suffered from the suspension of events, especially major events such as the Olympic Games, meetings, etc. In 2020, the European Athletics Championships, which would have taken place in Paris, were completely canceled. This is a real disaster for an athlete, because she/he is preparing specifically for these events. How do you deal with this situation yourself and what tips do you give your athletes? Is there any way to encourage them?
We have to find our way back to the basics and learn to make the best of the situation. We have to take control of what we can influence ourselves and learn to deal with what is beyond our control.
Photocredit by Ralph Mouchbahani
Ich weiß, dass du auch Projekte im Libanon hattest. Kannst du uns mehr dazu erzählen?
Die Langzeitprojekte, die du anspricht habe ich in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Auswärtigen Amt als Teil der Kultur- und Bildungspolitik und dem DOSB durchgeführt. Die internationale Kooperation baut auf 3 Dinge auf:
- Das Deutschlandbild nach außen zu tragen.
2. Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe sein. Damit Abhängigkeit reduzieren und Unabhängigkeit schaffen vom Unterstützer.
3. Deutsches Know-how nach außen zu tragen.
Im Libanon wie in Sambia habe ich die Sportstrukturen wieder aufgebaut (im Libanon nach dem 17-jährigen Bürgerkrieg) und in Sambia sie auf den Vordermann gebracht bzw. den neuen Bedingungen angepasst, genau das was ich oben “kritisiert” habe. Deshalb werden uns Schwellenländer und Entwicklungshilfeländer bald noch mehr überholen. Sie nehmen den Rat an, setzen ihn konsequent um und ernten den verdienen Erfolg.
Gerne können wir darüber ein weiteres Interview führen…
I know that you also had projects in Lebanon. Can you tell us more about it?
I carried out the long-term projects that you mentioned in cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office as part of cultural and educational policy and the DOSB. The international cooperation is based on 3 things:
To convey the image of Germany to the world.
To support the people to help themselves. This reduces dependency and creates independence from the supporter.
To convey German know-how to the world.
In Lebanon as in Zambia, I have rebuilt the sports structures (in Lebanon after the 17-year civil war). In Zambia I build the structures up and adapted them to the new conditions, exactly what I “criticized” above. That is why emerging markets and developing countries will soon overtake us even more. They accept the advice, implement it consistently and have the success they deserve.
For sure we can have another interview about it …
Was sind neben dem Sport deine großen Leidenschaften?
Ich bin so vielfältig interessiert, gerade auch sportlich. Ich spiele Golf wann immer das geht, interessiere mich für das, was andere anders machen, andere Kulturen, Technologien wie die KI fasziniert mich, aber auch die Umwelt. Vieles über das wir uns momentan beschweren haben wir uns selbst zuzuschreiben. Wenn man so wenig Rücksicht auf die Natur nimmt, brauchen wir uns nicht zu wundern, wenn sie sich wehrt. Die Natur wird immer siegen…
Besides sports, what are your great passions?
I am interested in so many different things, especially when it comes to sports. I play golf whenever possible, I am interested in what others do, other cultures, technologies etc. but I’m also internsted in the environment. Much of what we are complaining about at the moment is caused by ourselves. We should not be surprised when nature struggles. All is caused by the human being. But in the end: Nature will always win …
A passionate athlete
Photo by Frans Jansen
Of course, everyone knows your mother Nelli Cooman, one of the most successful athletes over 60m. So you grew up with athletics. When did you decide to go into athletics and at which age did you start to train? Was there any key experience?
There is really a funny story about it, because in our household sports played a key role. My mom was, of course a sprinter, and my dad did squash at a national level. So there was a rule that when I went to school and was still living in the house of my parents, I had to do some sports. First I began with swimming, because we live in the Netherlands and we are surrounded by water, especially here in Zeeland, then I did karate, tennis, field hockey and a lot of other different sports.
The second rule was, and I think it was a very unique rule, that I was not allowed to do athletics and had to wait until I was 16 years old. It was a rule made up by my mom. She made up a that rule, because she always said to me: “Ahtlecis, especially sprinting, gave me a lot of opportunies, but it was also very tough to do top sport and to live away from the family. It was not only sunshine.“
But of course, I was stubborn. So when I turned 17 years old, I went to Henk Kraaijenhof, Mamas former coach and asked him to find out, if I have the same talent as my mom and if I can be as good or even better as my mom.
So he did a DNA as well as a physical and mental test and after two hours we sat around the table in his office and he said to my mom: “Nelli she is better than you!“ And then I knew, I have to do something with the talents that God and my mom gave me, but not only my mom, also my father. My father was also a very fast guy. So I started to train full-time when I was 18 and a half years old and at the same time I went to university.
My key experience was, and it sounds very strange: I felt so close to my mom than ever before. Well, we are really really really close to each other and she was also really really really close with Henk. And I am also very close to Henk now. Because of the training and because of the meets I had to run I could understand better, what my mom said to me all over the years before I did athletics.
You turn 21 this year. What are your goals with athletics?
In March 18, I will turn 21. The last year went over very fast with everything, with the pandemic and so on. So I cannot believe, I will turn 21 in March and I’m looking forward to another year, hopefully another healthy year. My goals for athletics are set very high and are very powerful: I want to be better than my mom. If I’m better than my mom, I will be World Champion and also Olympic Champion. So I have high goals for myself and also big shoes to fill.
You work with the former trainer of your mother Henk Kraaijenhof. How is everything going? I know his focus is on physical and mental training. Did the training helps you also in other areas of your life (school, studies, private life?)
There is a big YES. The nice thing about Henk is, he is not only a trainer, but he also makes you a better person from inside. So, of course, I train with Henk to be faster than I’ve ever been before. But the focus is also on mental abilities and mental training because Henk says, that the mind always matters.
The mind is such a powerful and strong source, that will help you in the toughest situations. It’s definitely important to train the mind. He does that by pulling me out of my comfort zone. I went training with an antiterrorist group in the Netherlands. They are protecting the country against terrorism attacks and are a part of the police. They are very tough and they have pulled me out of my comfort zone.
But I also like just little things. For example: I love to plan things thoroughly. If I’m going on holidays I love planning where I’m going to, in which hotel I’m staying and so on. If I’m going to a meet or a competition I want to know what kind of warm-up I will be doing, etc.
Henk wants to prepare me for every situation that can happen at a meet or in real life so that I’m very flexible that I can bend but not break. I learned from Henk a lot. He put me definitely out of my comfort zone with a lot of success. People think I’m too nice and in the past, I said more YES than NO. So if someone needed my help, I said YES, even if I didn’t have the time. Henk was the one who taught me to say “NO”.
You have to put yourself at first place and with regard to school and university that’s very important because there is a lot of pressure. You have to learn a lot or study a lot, you have to take your exams and if you don’t have time to work and study properly because you’re always helping other students you neglect yourself.
It took me about a year to say “NO”, but I can say “NO” now.
And I’m feeling better than before: I have more energy, because I make more “ME-times”, I take more time for myself, this goes for my studies but also for my private life.
Photocredit by Ronéll Rosier
For sure, your mother is the best adviser, but I’m also sure you develop your own style. But what it the most important message resp. experience you have learned from your mother?
Yes, she is! Well, a lot I things. I think what I learned from my mom: when you climb the latter or you climb the stairs of fame don’t forget to greet those who are left and right to you. I think this is the most important message she gave to me.
Even if you are a big shot in the business or banking world or you are the best sprinter in the world, still stay humble and be grateful and respect others and don’t think that you are better than them. Because my mom always said: “If you don’t do it and you fall one day you will fall hard.”
Even if I win a meet or even my studies are going excellent and I see other friends who can’t study or can’t do whatever they want to do, I’m not feeling better than them because every human being and every person in the whole wide word has a unique set of talent and no one is better than the other. We just express ourselves in different ways.
For example, I might think it’s great to win the World Championships and pass my studies with excellent grades, for other people success means having a stable job and having a family. So don’t trust people who think they are better than others because everything is a matter of the perspective. So that is definitely the most important thing I learned from my mom. And she also gave me a lot of love and I think the love that she gave me made me a better person. And I can give the love she gave me and which is inside me to other persons who are not feeling loved.
A question for Nelli: Which advices are you giving Ronell when it comes to athletics, but also when it comes to life in general? What do you think is important for young people growing up nowadays? You were a very successful athlete, did this success have any impact on your life? What were your goals after you had retired?
The most important advice I gave to Ronell is to love herself, to trust herself and to believe in herself and the no 1 advice of course ist: to believe in Christ.
My advice for young athletes and children is: Don’t let yourself be influenced by the social media, because people think the grass is greener on the other side. Stay in your own place and trust in yourself and in what you have. Young people forget, that they have power and strength in themselves.
When I was a sprinter it had an influence on what I did in positive and negative ways. But the most important thing was, that I trusted in myself and prayed that negative things will turn in positive things. Of course, after my career and thanks to my career, I worked as an ambassador for charity organizations. A lot of things have changed in my life. My biggest goals in my life were having a child and I have one. May be it sounds a little bit strange, but I really didn’t have other goals because the most important goal I’ve reached, was to have a child and to be a mother.
And Ronéll added:
The biggest goal of my mother was to have a child. When my mother did track and field, she couldn’t have a child, of course. So that goal came true and she did not have many goals left after that. Yes, I’m glad that my mom was so happy when she was pregnant with me. You even may start to think that I’m a princess. I’m everything to her and she is everything to me and my dad also.
How do you feel in the current Corona situation and how do you deal with it? Which impact does it have on your training and studies?
Well, it has actually a great impact, because my grades have never been so good. But on one hand, I’ve never been so busy with my studies, because everything is online and of course this the best solution at the moment.
But you have also to do a lot more than we had to do when we were still going to the university, because now you have to check your mails regularly, because you get important informations. If you have an exam online and you want to pass it very good, you have to be very careful, that you don’t forget something. On the other hand, if you have questions you can ask them of course in the zoom classes, but to be honest, sometimes it’s better to speak with a person in real because it’s sometimes better to understand, when somebody explains a topic to you.
In general and for me personally I like it to be at home, because I study at a university in Amsterdam and Amsterdam, maybe this sounds a little bit shocking, is not one of my favorite places in the world.
I live in Zeeland and in Zeeland there are a lot of beaches and forests. There is a lot of freedom and not many people and sometimes Amsterdam gets too busy for me. I don’t know a lot the city, but it seems I have to get used to it. I love it to study at home. There I can just talk to my mother or I can go to the beach or to the forest and that was something I couldn’t do in Amsterdam. In Amsterdam I live in a little studio and you can’t go to the beach because you have to go to Zandvoort. The beach and the forest are my happy places where my soul and my mind can relax. Up to now I haven’t found such a place in Amsterdam, but I’m sure there is one. So don’t worry about me, I think I have to know the city better and make my friends there.
But for now I’m training for five days a week and before Corona I also had to go to the university, so the days were filled with activities. At that time, when I got home, I went straight to bed, so partying wasn’t working for me because I had to prepare for the next day, where I had to sprint or had to do my strength training.
What is resp. what are your passion(s) besides athletics?
I really love music. I played piano myself, but I stopped around the age of 15 / 16. I listen a lot of music. Everything from Hip Hop to RMB to Pop to Reggae to Classical Music and also to the good old Soul Music.
My mom and I love a song from James Brown “I feel good!“ I love Aretha Franklin too, but I love new artists as well, so I really listen to everything from Dutch music and yes, to German music, basically to the old songs like “99 Luftballons“.
My second passion is (but it’s on the same level like my first passion): I’m really being busy with how to live as good, spiritual and value-oriented as possible. Especially in a world like this it is very difficult, not only in the physical part, but especially in the mental part, like what my mom said, we have the social media and everyone is trying to look just perfect. In the social media people always show the good sides of themselves and not the negative sides.
There are people who might think that they are not looking as good or that they are not as great or perfect as these people they see on the Instagram or Facebook pages or wherever.
So what I am interested in is, how you can empower those people that they know that they feel special and good.
Henk is also offering programs for stressed people and people who have burnout. In this regard, I learn a lot from Henk, because there are a lot of people who have stress and burnout. I’m interested in how it can be prevented and how it can be healed and how a person can be stronger than ever before. Learning all about health is also a passion of me. I wanted to study medicine but I failed the test. On Friday I did the test again for medicine, so we will see.
Anyway health is always important for me. I think in the past the mental health was a little bit underestimated, but in the meantime, there is much more attention to it and this is good, because the mind is such a powerful tool you can use. You can use it as your shield, you can use it as your weapon, you just can use it to be a good person.
My third passion is: just being with people. It sounds strange but in Amsterdam there are a lot of people. But I mean I just want to be with people that I know, that I love, that have a special place in my heart. These people are my family, of course, Henk and his wife, they also have a special place in my heart, of course my boyfriend has a special place in my heart otherwise it would not be my boyfriend. The children who live in the street have also a special place in my heart.
I just want to be around people who empower me, who make me happy and sometimes challenge me, but at the end of the day you know that they are all worth it.
I also love the quote of Bob Marley: “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”
People I love are my passion, as well as health, music and of course sprinting.
I hope you are all doing well in this pandemic that you learn a lot about yourself, who you are and what you want to achieve in this world. I hope that people come closer to each other and learn about themselves in a good way and well I wish them the very best and that they know that they are special and unique. Don’t trust anyone who tells you anything else. You are special and you are worth it.