KSV Baunatal, who play in the Hessenliga (fifth division) are back in the DFB-Pokal for the first time since 1987/88. The former second-tier side have been eliminated in the first round in each of their six previous DFB-Pokal campaigns. They will be hoping to break their duck in the first round this season against VfL Bochum (Saturday, 10th August, 18:30 CEST).
“VfL Bochum are a former Bundesliga side and a traditional club,” said Willi Nebe, director of football at KSV, to DFB.de. “It’s great that such a big club is coming to play a competitive game in Baunatal.”
The 61-year-old has “been at the club for what seems like forever”, working a number of different roles. His journey with Baunatal began via his son Tobias, who played for the club between 2001 and 2003, and then from 2005 again. Tobias Nebe has now been the coach of Baunatal for over nine campaigns, although he was a player-coach for six of those seasons. The 37-year-old has worked as just the coach since 2016.
“I would still feel a big connection to this club even if Tobias wasn’t there anymore,” stated father Willi. “KSV Baunatal has become my club after the last 20 years. I can’t imagine working for another club now.”
Does a father and son combination always work at a football club? Willi Nebe certainly thinks so: “We’re not just father and son, but also friends. We are extremely close and would do anything for each other.” There’s no surprise that almost all of their conversations revolve around football. “We either talk about KSV Baunatal or my grandchildren,” said Nebe with a smile on his face.
The special thing about Baunatal according to Nebe is the family environment. “One of biggest strengths is our low turnover of staff. Everybody is happy here and enjoys playing for the club.” Only six players have arrived and six have left during the off-season, proving Nebe’s point.
The club which was founded in 1892 played in the 2. Bundesliga between 1976 and 1979 and Nebe feels the club is back on their way up. “We have done extremely well in the last few years considering our financial restrictions. We’ve have a lot of success with a strong side and not much money.” Baunatal were promoted into the Regionalliga Südwest in 2012/13, but were relegated back into the fifth tier after three years. “It was amazing that we managed to stay in the fourth division for a few years,” remarked Willi Nebe.
Most recently, Baunatal finished in seventh in the Hessenliga, after finishing in ninth place in each of the two previous years. Their short-term goal is to continue to improve and become a fixed presence within the teams at the top of the league. So far, their season has gotten off to a good start, after a 1-0 win away against Türk Gücü Friedberg. KSV backed up their strong form early on in their cup match against Kreisliga side TSV 1892 Vellmar (15-0). “If we had a few more Euros at our disposal then we would be able to be more competitive,” said Nebe. “However, I still think we have what’s needed in order to establish ourselves at the top.”
A possible return to the fourth division remains out of the question for right now. But, KSV Baunatal “definitely belong” there in the medium term, according to sporting director Nebe. In order to make the dream of being promoted into the fourth division a reality once more, the club needs “a lot more sponsors. We currently have several fantastic partners who have fully supported us for several years now. The city does a lot to support football as well. However, it’s not enough if we want to make promotion our goal.” As a result, acquiring more sponsors is at the top of the club’s list.
Qualifying for the DFB-Pokal after taking part in the final of the Hessenpokal (8-1 loss against newly-promoted second-division side SV Wehen Wiesbaden) is a definite plus in the search for more sponsors. Baunatal will face VfL Bochum at home in the Parkstadion, which has a capacity of just over 7,500. “I hope that the region comes out to support us for our match against a second-division side,” said Willi Nebe. “We would love to see the stadium sell out.”
Taking part in their first DFB-Pokal campaign in 32 years is enough to make Nebe “incredibly proud.” Nebe, who once played in the Bundesliga 2 for Hessen Kassel, turns to a well-known phrase to describe what chance the underdogs from the fifth-tier have against the second-division side from the Ruhr. “How does that saying go? We don’t have any chances, but we want to use them,” Nebe said with a grin.###more###