As Germany collected victory after victory in Pool I of the #EuroVolleyU18M, Filip John comfortably rested at the top of the best scorer’s list, showing incredible performances on court. After one of the matches we sought for a comment from him and Filip indeed had a couple of words for us. In fluent Czech.
“Yes, I was born in the Czech Republic, both of my parents are from here, but we moved to Germany, when I was two years old. So I play for Germany now,” John explained. As news broke, he was the it-boy here in Zlín with the local television prioritising recording an interview with the German opposite, before they headed to the Czech team, who had just flung past Germany with a 3-1 win to grab the last ticket to the semi-finals bound to take place on Saturday.
John told he has a long history with this sport: “I started playing in a club, when I was six years old. But since my brother played Volleyball, both of my parents played Volleyball, I always had a ball in my hands.” The family is together in the Czech Republic once again as Filip’s parents are a part of the big German fan group supporting the young players as the championship progresses.
“On paper, we were not that strong,” John explained the ambitions of the German team before the tournament. “But after we won the first game 3-0, we understood we can aim for the medals.” But it is not without Filip’s efforts that the German national team is doing so well. The 16-year old scored mind-blowing 29 points in two matches in a row against Belarus and Turkey. In the last game of the pool, however, coach Kalny let the leaders rest and thus John was on court only episodically, saving his powder for the most important matches of the tournament. “We will play the semi-final against Russia. They are a really great team, they are tall, they have a good block, but if we show the same emotion as in the previous games, then we have a chance.”
When Germany qualified for the final round of the championship, Filip already knew he would be returning to his homeland: “Of course, it is special, even though the fans are not supporting us. I can unerstand Czech, I can speak with the people here, it is great.” And just 10 minutes later he proved his words in action. Even though Germany had just lost a match, we could see Filip jogging around the court in a group of young Czechs, speaking and laughing as they got ready to call it a night. This is true sportsmanship and exactly, what we are looking for in future stars of Volleyball. We will definitely keep our eyes on Filip John.