Ben, you've been playing for the BR Volleys for three years now, and three more have been added. Are you aware that you may be entering the circle of real club icons with that decision?
Benjamin Patch: Haha, I haven't thought about that yet. Before I end up as one of our “Hall of Famer”, I still have to put in a little more performance. I think this contract extension primarily shows how comfortable I feel here and how happy the Club is with me. This kind of appreciation is simply great. I have built strong relationships here - be it with the employees, teammates, or fans. The whole organization is standing behind me as I am. I'm just looking forward to continuing this collaboration and building something big here. I do not only want to make my contribution to this dynamic project on the court, but also to make a difference in the Club's environment. I want to help in making the BR Volleys even more attractive, exciting, and better known.
Three years is a long time in Volleyball. What made you decide to sign such a long-term contract?
Patch: Because General Manager Kaweh Niroomand is simply convincing with his words (laughs). All joking aside, Berlin has become my home. I have never felt better in my life than I do here. The city is surely not the easiest place to live. There is constant change, there is so much to do and to learn. But that is exactly what suits me. What keeps me here is everything that the Club stands for and wants to stand for in the future. These factors are more important to me than money or playing in a team made up of superstars - not that we do not have outstanding players on our team as well! When I die one day, I want to be part of something meaningful in all aspects of life. I can feel this here. It is more important to me to become the best person I can be than becoming the best athlete. But if I there is a place where I can do both, it is here!
You are a creative mind and artist, who works on many projects apart from volleyball. Would you say that you can now bring all of this together in a better way and so be able to call up your absolute best athletic performance?
Patch: You learn. In the past, it was not the problem that I did too much. It was more up to myself. I have been wondering if this makes people think of me that my focus is not on the sport. Some may think that I am dancing happily through my life and that I'm not taking things seriously enough. But there is a lot that people do not know about me. Just because I may be radiating a certain ease, does not mean I'm out of focus. I am very focused. That is why I have the confidence to do different things at the same time.
Your first year in Europe, in Italy, was not that easy for you. Have you not yet succeeded in doing just that at this time?
Patch: I only function properly when I am very busy. That was not the case there and that blocked me, even on the field. I need a creative balance to be good in all areas of my life. That is why my move to the BR Volleys was a cast of fortune. Although, it was not easy here at the beginning as well. Our fans may remember that. I did not play in my first year like I do today. I was 23 years old. At every stage of life, you believe that you know yourself pretty well. But you only become aware of many things once you are looking back. My debut season in Berlin was a maturing process for me and in the end, there was this enormously valuable impulse by winning the championship in 2019. After that summer I came back and have evolved into a better version of myself. I think it is fair to say that you could see that in my second season.
What role does your relationship with general manager Kaweh Niroomand play in this process?
Patch: I simply like Kaweh. Regardless of where someone comes from or what they do, I treat everyone with respect. It is up to the person whether they can maintain this. I have the utmost respect for Kaweh. He is not always easy, he can also be tough, but he is always reliable and consistent. I do really appreciate that about him. You know what you get from him, just as you know what you get from me. I also had my difficult moments here when he helped me. Then we went for a coffee together and talked openly. Kaweh supports me and has now made it clear again during the contract negotiations that the Club believes in me in the long run.
What is next for you offside the field?
Patch: The Club and I are working on a joint project that will hopefully be well received by fans and partners. I do not want to reveal too much about that yet, but of course it has something to do with art. I hope that we can start soon!
What are your sporting goals in the coming years?
Patch: First, you have to say: Last season was a dream until it was suddenly torn apart. Everyone should know beforehand that it eventually not always works that way. This season is definitely more difficult. We had to deal with an injury-misery in which we surely also made a few mistakes ourselves. But we will learn from it and be better prepared. We still have a great team that remains capable of winning something this year. In Summer, of course, I want to go to the Olympic Games with Team USA and play an important role along the road. Then, in the coming years, it is also my dream to reach the Champions League final with Berlin.
Which brings us to Thursday's game against Itas Trentino. What is possible against the Italians?
Patch: Anything is possible. If we did not believe in victory, we would not have to compete at all. I want to win.
The match against Itas Trentino will be shown worldwide on www.eurovolley.tv and in Germany on www.xyzsports.tv