Dear wee family,
I have been grappling with this post for a while now. Should I publish it or not? I spent two days struggling with the answer to this question. Then, my job caught up with me, so that I almost forgot about it. But now, two weeks later, the time has come…
The following had happened: after our great media event in Bad Tölz on 24 May, our PR department had set up a few additional telephone interviews for me. One of them was with a large media outlet from Berlin – and the journalist at the other end of the line was not only very friendly, but also well-prepared and had done some in-depth research. Maybe it was because, for months, I had wished for a conclusion of the deal making “wee” the main sponsor for EC Bad Tölz. The press conference was a very emotional event for me, and my thoughts kept going back to my childhood and my parents. How difficult the times were back then. And how lucky I am to be able to give something back today. In any case, I gave too deep of an insight into my soul during this interview. I realised this when I was presented with the quotes for approval. I read them – and really had tears in my eyes, almost as I had had during the press conference. How much public sentimentality can I permit in my current position without being perceived as a weakling, and without it appearing to be a PR stunt? I called the journalist on Sunday and explained to her why I was feeling uneasy about the matter. I asked for her understanding that I could not have the interview published in the newspaper as planned, and offered her an alternative interview date which would be less emotional on my side. And guess what: the young lady fully understood. A true professional! I then almost did not dare to ask her whether she would be willing to re-write some of my interview questions for my personal blog. She just laughed and answered: “I’d be glad to! But only the short version.”
“I am sitting in the middle of the centre circle. In one of Germany’s most beautiful ice hockey arenas, which is soon to be named after my baby. weeArena Bad Tölz! In my mind’s eye, I see myself as a little boy in the stands of the old stadium. Trembling with excitement! How I longed to be on the ice. With a stick in my hand, scoring goals. For my home town, Bad Tölz. In the 70s, when I was a little boy, this place saw some amazing ice hockey games! But I could only go to see them every now and then. Because, to be honest, we really didn’t have money for this. To play ice hockey yourself, as the son of Turkish guest workers? At the time, that was as far away as a flight to Mars is today.
Our media spokesperson, Mr. Meuser, abruptly awakens me from my childhood reveries: “How are you feeling, Mr. Ehliz?” In front of me, 20 journalists are waiting… I spot my older brother among the guests; he smiles at me. Abdullah Ehliz today is on the board of directors of the Tölzer Löwen. Perfectly normal: just like the other directors and politicians, he is wearing a traditional jacket. He is a true Bavarian – just as I am. And I bet he is having similar thoughts as I am.
I am delighted to be here. And a little bit nervous, I smile as I answer the question into the microphone. I think my father is looking down at us right now, rubbing his chin: “Looks like little Cengiz turned out quite alright after all! I always knew he would.”
Can you imagine how I am feeling right now? I actually have goose bumps. And that is something very rare. My baby “wee” will become the main sponsor of the club I have idolised since my childhood. The ice rink will be renamed “weeArena”, and right here, the vision of mobile payment will become a pilot project for the entire region, before we start our global roll-out. Brilliant!
My brother is a successful entrepreneur and member of the board of directors of EC Bad Tölz. What 50 years ago would have been unthinkable for my father is now absolutely logical and normal to me. And my nephew Yasin learned to ice skate right here, and then fought his way up to the first team of our home team before going pro with the Nürnberg Ice-Tigers. Today, he is a confident member of the German national ice hockey team. As a German with a Turkish migrant background!
I could not be prouder! I am absolutely delighted!
Thank you, Papa. Thank you, Mama. Thank you, home.”