#THIS ARTICLE IN DUTCH
by Leo Aquina | 14 May 2020
At first glance Omar Schlingemann’s career might seem haphazard, but a closer look reveals a red thread. When he was a student, Schlingemann became the coach of the Hurley ladies’ 2nd team, more or less by accident. ‘They were all good-looking girls, so I did not hesitate long’, he smiles. After working in Germany for seven years, the meanwhile 42-year old hockey coach will return to the Netherlands this coming season to coach Klein Zwitserland in the Dutch first division. In addition, he is the CEO of Fusion5 Performance, a company that advises professional football players on training and nutrition. In each of those capacities he tries to help people reach their full potential.
‘I really had no clue’, Schlingemann remembers his first job as a hockey coach. ‘I used to play hockey, and one day a lady friend asked me to come and watch the training. Before I knew it, they asked me to be their trainer. I got 30 guilders an hour, and the girls loved it. I thought it was complicated but I was lucky in that three former professionals took me under their wings. They taught me the basic principles of coaching.’
To his surprise he moved on to become the coach of HIC’s men’s team, which meant a promotion to the so-called transitional division. ‘I was coaching the ladies, but things went awry and the chairman asked me to coach the men. It was a team with older guys only, and that’s why I asked Freek Holl to assist me. He’s a huge bear of a man, when he used to play hockey everyone was terrified of him. I was young and not very tall, I needed his bulk next to me.’
By always gathering the right people around him, Schlingemann learned on the job. ‘I did attend training courses, but always got into these discussions with the teachers, who were coaching in the same competition I did. And then I had to do an internship, which was impossible because I had my own team, so in the end I quit.’ Later Schlingemann obtained a master’s in sports management from the Johan Cruyff Institute. ‘I definitely see the value of a good training. I was eager to do training in football, as I would like to make that switch at some point.’
Fusion5 advises business people and professional athletes like players of FC Barcelona and Liverpool. The company’s name refers to its working method.
Although he did not (yet) make that switch to football as a coach, as the CEO of Fusion5 Performance Schlingemann gets to work with many football players. He got to know the company while working as the head coach of Uhlenhorst, the German record champion in hockey. And how did he end up at Uhlenhorst? Well, seven years ago Schlingemann moved to Germany to accept a job as the export manager of a sushi company.
At the same time, he started working for hockey club Schwarz Weiss Neuss, followed by the job of coach of Uhlenhorst, which took him back to the European top. Ulhlenhorst’s selection received medical and athletic guidance from a Performance Centre in Essen and Schlingemann hit it off with the owner. ‘I had been working for a company for a long time, and was eager to have my own business again. So when I got the chance, I joined Fusion5Performance as a partner.’
Fusion5 advises business people and professional athletes, like the players of FC Barcelona and Liverpool. The company’s name refers to its working method. ‘Our work comprises five pillars’, Schlingemann explains. ‘Treatment, Movement, Nutrition, Mind and Technology. People come to us with a specific goal in mind. Our specialists examine what should be done in each of those five areas to accomplish that goal. A football player, for instance, might want to get stronger, physically, to take the next step in his career.’ What do professional athletes and business people have in common? ‘They are all high performers. We provide guidance to people who have the focus and discipline to work towards a specific goal. It is not just about always staying one step ahead of others, but mostly about reaching your full potential.’
"Players should always feel that their coach trusts them’
The work Schlingemann does for Fusion5 Performance largely overlaps with his work as a hockey coach. ‘How we provide guidance to people at Fusion5, and how I coach, are very similar. It is different from all other clubs. To me, the individual is the basis, and I build on that. What does a player want? Ultimately, it is not even about the sport, but about how they grow as a person. I try to help players make better choices. If a player at a 1-0 advantage tries to pass an opponent mid-field and loses the ball, causing us to draw, yeah, sure I am upset. But what’s the point? Players should always feel that their coach trusts them. If I support that player, and talk with him about why he made that choice, he might make a different choice next time. I don’t want him to make a choice because he fears his coach, I want him to make a choice based on his experience. He should be able to play freely.’
Surrounding himself with the right specialists and trying to make people reach their full potential, that is the red thread in Schlingemann’s career. Whether he works with top hockey players, business people or professional football players. For Klein Zwitserland, tenth in the first division, he has set the bar really high. ‘We want to be the champion. The club is ambitious, well-organised and they trust me to work the way I always do’, so Schlingemann says. As far as the future is concerned: Schlingemann still casts a hopeful eye towards football. ‘I really like that world. I immensely respect the mentality of professional football players. People have no idea how hard those boys work. I don’t have the right papers and it’s hard to get in, but I would like to put myself to the test in a new environment. I think I would feel right at home.’
For more information: Fusion5 Performance