At the beginning of May Simon Brown announced that he had left Italian side, Amicacci Giulianova after four seasons with the club and nine years in total in Italy. The following day RSV Lahn-Dill announced that the World Champion would be moving to Wetzlar for the upcoming season. Rollt.’s English-speaking Content Producer, Dylan Cummings spoke with Brown in an exclusive interview.
Why did you choose to move to RSV Lahn-Dill next season?
“I was really honored when they got in contact with me. For me they are one of the great teams that have pushed the development of our sport over the last couple of decades. They are like wheelchair basketball’s version of Manchester United or Real Madrid. You’ve got great history and a fan base hungry for success. You’ve also got guys like Mike Paye, Brian Bell and Tommy Bohme who I love to watch play and to compete against so I’m sure playing alongside them is going to be just as fun.”
How do you intend to fit into the dynamics of the team?
“I think one of my strengths is being able to fit into most roles and doing what’s best to make a team work. If you look at the style Lahn-Dill have been playing the last few years it clearly plays into my strengths so hopefully I’ll be able to fit in and help improve all aspects. I think it’s going to be a good fit.”
How do you feel about playing in the Bundesliga and what’s your previous knowledge of the league?
“I’m really excited for a new challenge. I will be playing against a lot of teams and players I’ve never come up against before and I think being out of my comfort zone with all of that is going to push me to be a better player. Obviously, a lot of British guys have played in the league over the years and the rise of Thuringia has been pretty interesting. I’ve always had one eye the league, but I think actually playing in it is going to be a big learning experience.”
Do you think the Bundesliga is a higher standard than the Italian league?
“I think when I moved to Italy in 2010 it was the best league in the world, but it’s rapidly dropped off and been overtaken by Germany and Spain. Economic problems and the decision to force Italian clubs to play with two Italians has really hurt the league’s ability to attract the best players and coaches. I think Germany is doing things right off the court as well, there seems to be really good fan bases at clubs and a much more professional approach to running things and that’s great for the game.”
How do you think playing in the Bundesliga will challenge you?
“Friends have told me from experience it’s a very physical league, but I think that’s something I’ll enjoy! There are probably a lot of little challenges when changing leagues that you take for granted when you’ve been somewhere a long time. Relationships with teammates obviously have to be built but you also have relationships with officials and even opponents that help you predict outcomes and make on the fly decisions that I probably won’t have in my first few games in the Bundesliga. I’m really looking forward to the challenges though and can’t wait to take them all on.”
What are your thoughts on German culture, and do you think it will differ from Italian culture?
“Whenever I’ve been to Germany I’ve always been treated well and met really nice people, but I guess that’s my only real insight into German culture so far. Obviously, I love Italian culture, food, and lifestyle but I think I’ve gotten a little too comfortable so it’s going to be great to get out of my comfort zone and learn a new language and culture. I’m guessing it’s going to be a lot colder though.”
What do you miss most about the UK when you are abroad?
“I don’t really get homesick that often, I’ve had the privilege of living in a beautiful country with amazing people around me, but I guess the language barrier is a big one. No matter how hard I tried I never got my Italian to a point where I could speak it effortlessly.”
How would you describe your style of play?
“I really don’t know how I’d describe it! I guess the most obvious thing is I love to play defense, I love to be disruptive and go after scorers, I like to ruin a scorer’s day. On offence I love to facilitate a scorer to have a better one.”
Has anyone specifically influenced you to play the way you do?
“I was privileged enough to come through my early career in GB playing for two clubs full of International and ex-international players. I had so much to see and learn from, maybe most influential was the absolute wars I got to have with Gaz Choudhry and Ade Adepitan in scrimmages! Once I got to GB having a coach like Murray Tresedar who demanded and rewarded hard work and a coach like Haj Bhania who created an environment to hone fundamental skills in was huge as well.”
What do you think is the secret behind the success of the GB squad?
“I don’t think there’s any secret that we have amazing support from UK Sport that allow us to train together a lot more than a lot of national teams. I think we’re also in a great period of time where we have a mix of two different generations of really successful and really talented players. I think the investment we’ve had in junior basketball has been a revelation as well, every time I go back to Britain, I’m amazed at just how many young talented kids are playing compared to when I was coming up. It’s an exciting time for British Basketball but I think we’re facing a couple of years that are really going to test just how successful we really are. We obviously have a huge target on our backs now and everyone is going to want to knock us off.
Who is your best mate on the GB squad?
“Gaz and I started playing at the same team within a week or two of each other and have been through so much together so for sure its him.”
What are your goals for next season?
“Its cliché but the goal for Lahn-Dill has to be to win right? I can’t imagine looking back on next season and being content unless we have trophies in our hands. Personally, speaking I hope I’ll be preparing for Tokyo as well but obviously we have to get through a tough Europeans first.”
What piece of advice has stuck with you throughout your career?
“Ex-GB player Matt Byrne said to me once ‘when you’re fast you don’t have to be fast all the time’ which at the time didn’t make a lot of sense but as I got older made a huge difference in the way I played and the things I achieved.”
If you could do a training session with three other players from anywhere in the world to improve your skills, which players would you choose and why?
“I don’t even know how to start answering that, obviously with GB I’m a little bit spoilt for choice with the amount of world class players I get to work with. Trust me, trying to do something like chair skills drills against guys like Harry, Phil or Ade or two-man game with guys like Gregg, Terry and Gaz is no joke! If I look at the guys I’ll get to work with at Lahn-Dill I am super excited as well, it’s going to be a great environment for me.”
“Maybe thinking away from Sheffield and Weltzlar a bit, looking at what Patrick Anderson posts on social media it looks like he does quite a lot of drills thinking outside the box which would be a lot of fun. Maybe as a low pointer I reckon Jannik Blair would be ultra-competitive and I could have a great session with him and then finally maybe just pick Ozgur Gurbulak just because he’s one of my favorite opponents and I don’t think I’ve ever got on court with him and not wanted to up my level to the highest possible.”
Rollt would like to thank Simon Brown for this interview.
Simon Brown Profile
Date of Birth: 07/03/1986 (aged 33)
Hometown: Kingsbury, London
Started playing: 2000
GB senior debut: Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games
Future club: RSV Lahn-Dill, GER (starting September 2019)
- London Titans, GBR (2000-2007)
- Aces, GBR (2007-2010)
- ASD S Stefano Sport, ITA (2010-2014)
- Discovery Eagles, RSA (2010-2011)
- GSD Porto Torres, ITA (2014-2015)
- Amicacci Giulianova, ITA (2015-2019)
- British Super League Championship 2010
- South African Championship 2011
- Two junior European Championships
- Paralympic Bronze Medalist, Beijing 2008
- European Champion, Frankfurt 2013
- European Champion, Worcester 2015
- Paralympic Bronze Medalist, Rio 2016
- World Champion, Hamburg 2018
Interview: Dylan Cummings | Foto: Uli Gasper