MT staging charity match today to benefit ex-Eitra player Fichtner

Today, Wednesday 24 August 2016, is the big day: handball Bundesliga side MT Melsungen, former players and long-time supports will contest a joyous affair at the Großsporthalle in Schenklengsfeld, Germany. At the initiative of MT coach Michael Roth and the host, HSG Landeck/Hauneck, the day's proceeds will go to a former TV Eitra player, "Bernd" Fichte Fichtner, who has been stricken with multiple sclerosis. The charitable event entitled "Wir für Bernd" will throw off at 8 pm. Tickets are still available at the box office, with doors opening at 5 pm.

The undercard (throw-off 6 pm) will feature an encounter between the Womens Junior B-team against Thüringen HC, whose roster includes Bernd Fichtner's daughter Lara Sophie. At approx. 7:15 pm, in between the two matches, bicycle acrobat Wolfgang Wenzel will entertain the audience with his daredevil moves, followed by a discussion round by moderator Hans Hantke with honourary guests and companions. Helge Janeck, Frank Gießler, Hans-Joachim Ursinus, former national coach Rainer Osmann, Iljo Duketis, Ivan Majstorovic, Knut Koch, local son Bernd Edleditsch, Wolfgang Kemmler, Erik Pettermann, Stefan Wenzel, Martin Becker, Robert Nolte, Thomas Feick and of course MT head coach Michael Roth have all agreed to appear. They'll be joined by football coaching legend Dragoslav "Stepi" Stepanovic, who'll be coming in from Frankfurt. "Bernd came to visit me during my book presentation for 'Lebbe geht weider' at Commerzbank Arena. It was such a pleasure, and I'm more than happy to return the favour for his charity match", Stepi said of the reunion today. Vice-President Dr Heinz Zielinski from the Hesse State Sports Association has also promised to attend, as has the chairman of the Stiftung Sporthilfe Hessen, a charitable foundation.

The two patrons of the event, Harald Pressmann from Hauneck and Stefan Gensler aus Schenklengsfeld, will conduct a symbolic throw-off to the main match at 8 pm. At that point a selection of east Hesse stars guided by former Eitra players Gerald Birkel and Wolfgang Kemmler will square off against MT Melsungen, who beyond injured keeper Johan Sjöstrand will be arriving at full force. The MT quickly signed former ThSV Eisenach keeper Svetislav Verkic as a backup.

During half-time, moderator Hans Hantke, together with Bernd Fichtner, Michael Roth and Wolfgang Kemmler, will run the tombola filled with top prizes. The event organisers are appealing for "generosity from the spectators", with all proceeds going to help "Fichte". Once the match is over, all players will be signing autographs for fans before enjoying some collegial time together.

SG Schenklengsfeld will be running the catering to ensure fans have plenty of chances to sate their hunger. That means delicious braten from the smoker, a mushroom cooker, all manners of wursts and delicious chips. There will also be beer on draught and non-alcoholic drinks to slake the thirsts of visitors large and small. The food and drinks are also available for sale even for those without a ticket to the match.

Thanks go out to all the spectators whose presence brings the event to life, as well as the sponsors, supporters, committees and agencies who provided generous materials, monies and organisational aid to make the event possible.



HNA: Coach Roth initiates charity match for former colleague

When Michael Roth came to TV Eitra back in 1990, he wasn't the only newcomer to the ambitious handball club from the east Hesse town of Hauneck. At right around the same time Eitra recruited a dangerous right wing from Eisenach, Bernd Fichtner. "I liked the guy immediately", Roth remembers. "Even if I could barely understand him at first: Fichte talked in a thick East German dialect".

The strength of that bond, 25 years on and counting, drove Roth to co-organise a charity match for his former teammate. Fichtner was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nine years ago. "Wir für Bernd" is the motto for the event to be held today (Wednesday) at 8 pm at the Großsporthalle in Schenklengsfeld. Coach Roth's handball Bundesliga team MT Melsungen will square off against an all-star team from east Hesse.

The initiators
Melsungen are giving up more than just their normal takings. Roth has also ensured that almost all the current shirts from the Bundesliga players will be put in the charitable tombola booth. All proceeds will go to Fichtner. The match was co-organised by Wolfgang Kemmler and Gerald and Rainer Birkel, all from the TVE. The role of guests included Zeljko Zovko, the coach for that newly promoted team, as well as his former Eisenach coach Rainer Osmann. "He was an outstanding right wing", the MT coach says of his former teammate, whose reach in the region extends beyond his five years in Eitra. Bernd Fichtner's, now 51, actually ended his professional career at Eschweger TSV.

The teams
Melsungen will be at full strength, excepting the injured Johan Sjöstrand, Marino Maric and new recruit Gabor Langhans (patellar tendon problem). They'll face off against players from local clubs Landeck/Hauneck, Hersfeld, Hünfeld and Alsfeld. A former Melsungen player, keeper Kai Hüter now with 2nd Bundesliga side TV Hersfeld, will be minding the net. (Read the complete HNA article here.)



Osthessen-News: "Bernd Fichtner fighting back after being dealt tough hand - benefit match for ex-Eitra winger"

When Bernd Fichtner thinks about the match being played for his benefit, the 51-year-old needs a moment to compose himself. "My eyes tear up a little when I think about it", says the one-time right wing, who was completely surprised when he heard of the benefit match. "I'm so proud, because it shows that I must not have done too much wrong", Fichtner continues.

After all, the 51-year-old notes, his time in Eitra came almost 20 years ago. "The camaraderie that we enjoyed as a team back then, it's still there", Fichtner says, and explains that the old friendships are still in place and that he's never lost contact. There are special ties between him and former teammate Wolfgang Kemmler. The old players from the TVE, which played in the Bundesliga for a spell in the 90s, meet on a regular basis to keep up contact and relive the glory days.

Bernd Fichtner came to Eitra, located in a cosy forest section of Hesse, shortly after the fall of the Iron Curtain. In 1990, while still with club BSG Motor Eisenach, he played against Eitra — and notched 13 goals. "Heinz Koch, who was coach at the time, slid me his card under the table after the match", says 'Fichte' about his path to the TVE. The sharpshooting man on the right wing spent five years in Eitra, helping the small club team find big success, before transferring to Eisenach and later Eschwege. (Read the complete Osthessen-News article here)

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