Timo Heinze has worked as a sports psychologist at the Bayer 04 Performance Centre for two years. "I've experienced a lot of great moments in that time and I really feel at home at the club," declared the 35 year-old who is now also working as a co-commentator.
Mentality is quality. A sentence of just three words that says so much. Anybody involved in competitive sport these days will sooner or later come across the concept of mentality. One man who is an absolute expert in this field is Timo Heinze.
Born in Rosenheim, he progressed through the youth ranks at Bayern Munich and he played for Germany youth teams. The former captain of the second team at the record champions has been working for two years as a sport psychologist with the Bayer 04 Youth section after completing two study courses. His day-to-day work primarily involves looking after the two oldest youth teams at the Werkself – the U19s and U17s.
"It's primarily about personal development, promoting mental health and obviously increasing performance levels on the pitch," said Heinze in describing his field of expertise and he added: "Dealing with mistakes is one of my core issues. But equally important to me are areas like concentration, stress management, setting targets, communication within the team and much more. This profession is enormously varied and I move a lot between my office and the pitch to watch training and matches. The players often have sporting issues but sometimes also some very private or school-related ones. I mostly look after the players individually and, beyond that, work very closely with our coaches."
In short: The 35-year-old has an extremely wide range of activities in his job at Kurtekotten. He does not do that on his own but rather with his colleague Simon Borgmann, who has been responsible for the U12 to U15 teams at Leverkusen since March of this year. "I'm very happy we can work as a team and complement each other so well," said Heinze. It's incredibly valuable to be able to have the ability to exchange expertise in your area of work."
After hanging up his boots as a professional footballer and before his work as a sport psychologist, Heinze played futsal for around eight and a half years and he was captain of the Germany futsal team for many years as well as their first goalscorer. Since starting his work at the Werkself, the man born in Upper Bavaria no longer plays the game but he has recently been at Germany matches as a co-commentator and pundit. "I've never lost contact with the DFB. When the request came I was up for it straightaway," he revealed before adding: "I just fancied the experience. It's a perfect second job for me as futsal is simply very close to my heart – I love the sport."
Futsal has been played for decades in many parts of the world. It is particularly popular in countries like Spain, Portugal, Russia, Iran, Argentina and Brazil. In contrast, the sport has only become more professional in Germany in recent years as Heinze explained: "There's not a boom here but you can see that something is really happening with the introduction of the Bundesliga at the start of September."
The last two winners of the UEFA Futsal Champions League were Sporting Lisbon and Barcelona. At the moment there are no clubs in the Bundesliga with a futsal section. Hamburg SV (HSV Panthers) and Fortuna Düsseldorf in the second division do have teams. But Heinze can imagine that "one or two Bundesliga clubs" will follow in the medium term.
Heinze is next in action as a co-commentator with the Germany futsal team on Sunday, 14 November (kick-off: 15.30 CET). Germany face Sweden with the game played at the Castello Düsseldorf. Tickets are available from €12.