After three years in the TTBL, Omar Assar will transfer back to France for the upcoming season. Before his departure to becoming a part of GV Hennebont TT we have interviewed the 29 year old player and chatted about his experiences with SV Werder Bremen and Borussia Düsseldorf, about the matches against Düsseldorf in the Champions League and about his current shape.
What were your emotions during the draw of the Champions League on Friday? You and your new team GV Hennebont TT will compete against Borussia Düsseldorf ...
The draw was really exciting and it will be exciting as well to play against my old teammates from Düsseldorf. I feel very close to the fans of Borussia, so it will be two very special matches. Especially to host Düsseldorf in Hennebont will be thrilling. We hope to perform well and will do our best to qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions League.
What do you think about the new modus of the Champions League with, among other things, only three competitors per group?
I believe it’s a good innovation. It makes it more difficult and challenging for the teams to qualify and so it will be more interesting for the fans. They will see lots of tough matches on a very good level. The new modus is the right way because it reduces the number of matches for the top teams while at the same time increasing the quality.
After three years in the TTBL you will leave Germany for the new season. How do you look back on your time in the TTBL? What’s your conclusion?
It was always one of my dreams to play in the TTBL and so I feel honoured to have been a part of two of the greatest teams in Germany. Bremen selected me from France and gave me the chance to enter the TTBL. I am very, very grateful to both teams and would like to thank them for the confidence they had in me.
Usually, Düsseldorf is an all-time favourite. However, Borussia went away empty-handed in the past two years and so did you. In your opinion, what was the reason for Düsseldorf not winning any trophies in 2019 and 2020?
Düsseldorf is the German record champion. They are a great club – one of the greatest in Europe. But the last two years were very tough. Of course I was dreaming about winning a title with Düsseldorf, unfortunately we did not make it. In my opinion there are several reasons for this: The most crucial is probably the reform of the world ranking by the ITTF since you can only improve your ranking by participation on international events. This is very challenging and it increased the number of injuries in our team.
Besides, most other clubs in Germany were not participating in the three competitions: the TTBL, the German Cup and the Champions League. Due to the amount of matches it is very difficult to always show your best performance. In my opinion, this was one of the main factors for not winning a title in the past two years.
How well do you see Borussia positioned for the future? Why should it work with achieving a title again soon?
I’m very confident for Düsseldorf’s future and I think they will play a strong season. They are all great players and of course especially Timo is very stable in his game. Anton is a promising talent and has shown his good level in the last year. Kamal played amazing at the world tour. I hope that Kristian will recover his elbow surgery fast and will come back even stronger. Danny is a unique coach who always tries to improve every player. I’m confident that the next season will be way better for Borussia than the last.
At the Düsseldorf Masters you have showed yourself in good shape recently. How have you kept yourself fit in the past months and how do you feel right now?
The Düsseldorf Masters is a great chance to apply what I’ve tried out in training. Only practicing without the challenge of a competition is very difficult. Düsseldorf Masters is perfect for testing and trying something new: In some weeks I worked very hard in training, especially in the physical area, and then I tested how this affected the weekend. In another week I tried a different strategy. I would like to thank the organisers for making this tournament possible.
During the Covid-19 pandemic I tried to stay active and had a small gym at home where my wife was working out with me. At the moment I feel really physically fit and I’m very happy that I kept myself in a good shape and also kept my mindset positive. I feel much better right now than, for example, one year ago and can see a clear improvement. For this I would like to thank my wife in particular. She is always cheering and pushing me. I’m very thankful.
For the new season you have signed with GV Hennebont TT. What are your expectations for the new season and your time in France?
Hennebont is a great club and one of the best not only in France but also in Europe. Lots of great players like Ryu Seung Min, Kalinikos Kreanga and many others have played here, so I feel very honoured. Apart from the great history, the fan scene also convinced me, the table tennis school and the whole professionalism in the club. I have always had a good and friendly relationship with Hennebont, already during my time in France and also during the matches with Düsseldorf in the Champions League.
I would really like to thank the German Table Tennis Federation and the national team for giving me the chance to practice and to improve my game in the past. Jörg Roßkopf is a great coach and I felt really involved in the German group. Roßkopf and Lars Hielscher did an exceptional job during the pandemic to protect the players and to keep them active.
Header photo: Omar Assar (by Jörg Fuhrmann)