He takes talent development to next level

Jens FellkeNews, PortraitLeave a Comment

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Interview with Daniel Zwickl, new Managing Director of compass

When Daniel Zwickl was young he participated in seven European Youth Championships and won five gold medals in cadet category. After his career he was a crucial part of the team that built Liebherr Masters College, the centre in Ochsenhausen where among others Hugo Calderano and Simon Gauzy developed their talents to become top 10 players  in the world.

So it is no wonder Daniel topped the wish list when compass started the search for a new Managing Director. Since 1 November 2021, the 37-year-old Hungarian has started his journey of leading the foundation into the future.

Daniel Zwickl, new Managing Director of compass. Foto: private

”Except for the last three years working with Teqball, all my life has been table tennis – as a player and as a sport and team manager in Ochsenhausen”, Daniel says over a Teams interview. “Table tennis is the sport where I have my engagement, passion and enthusiasm. Moreover, talent development is very close to my heart having been through it as a player and guided several generations of players at Liebherr Masters College.”

Daniel, Dubravko Skoric and Liam Pitchford during Daniel’s time as sport and team manager in Ochsenhausen. Foto: TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen

To create momentum

Daniel will combine his knowledge as a player and as a sport manager at the highest level, as well as his latest experience with teqball where he worked for the new sport gaining broader experience in a different area of sport business.As the new compass Managing Director, he is responsible for 20 rising talents in Germany, Sweden and France, in addition to their daily trainers, as well as the fully employed compass expert coaches Evelyn Simon and Oliver Alke. ”compass started five and half years ago and I took over a well functioning system”, he continues. “My task is to drive it to the next level, to create a framework and a strategy that will take us to the next stage of the project.”

”It is about creating a flexible and sustainable system where talents can grow as fast as possible along a pathway to the very elite level. It is about opening up the organisation to talents also from other countries in Europe. At compass, we also want to help the local and personal coaches of the talents to strengthen the home environment so it matches our high goals. Moreover, it is important to connect to all stakeholders involved – players, trainers, parents, federations, sponsors, national teams and clubs. It is very exiting to do something that has never been done before.”

Higher level but lack of creativity

In October 2021, Daniel went to Tours in France to experience Europe Youth Top 10, a tournament he played five times as a cadet and junior himself.
”Generally speaking the youth level for both girls and boys is higher now than three-five years ago. What I miss though, are more players like Truls Möregardh or Annett Kaufmann (compass player) who all have a unique, innovative style. In Asia the system comes first and the individual second. To challenge Asia we need to have the opposite order – the individual first and the system second.”

”That´s how we work in compass. We scout and select at an early age. We try to provide tailor-made support in their home environment, including a personal coach with the overall responsibility for their development. We have an expert team around with high competence in all areas needed, including the material and technologies they use.”

Daniel participated at the London Olympics in 2012. Foto: SAEED KHAN/AFP/GettyImages

The importance of courage to stick to the plan

As a player Daniel himself was regarded as a wonder kid in Hungary. He was tipped to be the next world champion, like Klampár or Jónyer or Gergely back in the 1970s. Daniel went on to have a successful professional career, playing at the London 2012 Olympic Games and a World Ranking peak of 89. He was clearly an elite player, but what would he have done differently looking back?

”I would have been more brave for change. I would have believed more in myself and challenged the system. To become really good you need to have the courage to do things differently than others and as convention dictates. You need to have the right coach(es), be in the right environment with people around you that share the same values, and make the right decisions at the right time. Rather than focusing on the result of the next competition, you need to look to your long term development and vision. Moreover, you should not compromise but instead follow your plan.”

As the next step, compass is soon opening up the application process for new talents to be part of the talent support programme. Information will follow soon on the compass website.

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