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By Mark Lebedew: Vale ZF Arena

by WoV
source: https://marklebedew.com; Photo: MarkLebedew.com; CEV author: Mark Lebedew

I heard this week along with all volleyball fans about the closing of ZF Arena, the iconic volleyball stadium in Friedrichshafen.

Mark Lebedew

Mark Lebedew


My history there literally goes back to the first official match played. For whatever reason, the opening match of the stadium was VfB Friedrichshafen against my team, SV Bayer Wuppertal. A quick look through hard drive tells me the match was played in front of 4,000 spectators on December 3rd 2003. We lost 3-1. They were much better than us, and the word after the game was that they had let us win a set on purpose to make it a decent spectacle. Of course, I have no way of knowing if that is true, nor does it matter if it is. I do remember that the stadium was impressive. Much was made of the state of the art lighting system, from which no direct light reached the court.

Arena lighting

Arena lighting


The first days of the ZF Arena, December 2003

ZF Arena 1

ZF Arena 1


There were many stories over the subsequent years.

  • Losing a set in a playoff match 9-25, and winning the next set.
  • Our manager (not Helmut Glimpf) being shouted at by the Friedrichshafen manager for having the nerve to address him in the informal tense, even though we had paid to eat in VIP Room.
  • For many years it was the only stadium in Germany which refused to let the visiting team take the key to the changerooms, or use balls before the match, or have lights on. The first resulted in a player being locked (accidently?) in the changerooms before a match, with the Hausmeister (accidently?) nowhere to be found. The second and third led to a hilarious exchange between the Friedrichshafen coach and his Moers counterpart during the only Bundesliga coaches meeting held during my ten years in Germany.
Mark Lebedew and legendary Helmut Glimpf

Mark Lebedew and legendary Helmut Glimpf

In the end, the ZF Arena became a happy hunting ground. With Berlin, we won seven matches in a row over three seasons, a feat I am 100% sure that no other visiting team has managed. Among those seven victories were two championships, including one that bled, or more accurately spilt, into my birthday. I am sad that I will never have another chance to visit the stadium, but happy to be able to look back on great times.



About Mark Lebedew:

Mark Lebedew authors the At Home on the Court Blog. He coaches professionally in Poland, in season 2019/20 with Aluron Virtu CMC Warta Zawiercie. That follows five seasons Germany where his Berlin Recycling Volleys won three straight league titles and a CEV Champions League bronze medal. He has prior professional experience in Belgium and Italy. Mark was also Head Coach for the Australian Men’s National Team. 

Mark partnered with his brother and father to translate and publish “My Profession: The Game“, the last book by legendary Russian coach, Vyacheslav Platonov. 

With John Forman, he is behind the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project (link http://volleyballcoachingwizards.com/) which identifies great coaches from all levels, making their experience, insights, and expertise available to people all over the world. The project has produced multiple books, a in e-book format available here ( link to http://bit.ly/34yakou ) or in print at Amazon here (link https://amzn.to/2JRqTE6)




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