netball? In a survey, most would probably say: I don’t know! Netball is a sport that is rare, in Munich it is only played at TSV Milbertshofen. Jana Herbert is a player and head of the basketball department there – and sometimes something like the public relations officer. For example, if she is to explain what netball actually is, namely a mixture of handball and basketball. Herbert, 30, studied market and media management and works as a social media team leader at a large Munich sports company.
SZ: Ms. Herbert, the basketball players from TSV Milbertshofen play in a league in the Allgäu. Why?
Jana Herbert: There is no basketball league in Munich or Upper Bavaria. But I’ll start at the beginning: In 2018 I sent out an appeal in a Facebook group to find fellow players. I had been in Munich on business for six months and had missed my home sport.
Where are you from?
From near Würzburg. Between Würzburg and Schweinfurt. More specifically: the Main loop. Even more specifically: Zeilitzheim. I started playing netball there when I was five years old.
Basketball is mainly found in Franconia, in parts of North Rhine-Westphalia, in Bremen and in the Allgäu. Do you know why that is?
Basketball was first played in Germany in Leipzig. However, the sport no longer exists there. But I can’t say why it’s now being played in Franconia, Bremen, North Rhine-Westphalia and in the Allgäu. In Franconia, where most of us come from, it is already very common, especially in the Schweinfurt area.
And you started when you were five years old. Were there role models in the family?
Yes, my two older sisters. We later played together in the Bundesliga for the Schweinfurt district club TV Oberndorf. I did that until I came to Munich.
That brings us back to your Facebook call for 2018. Was there no other basketball team in Munich at the time?
No. And we are still the only basketball team in Munich.
There is also no male?
No. There is no male basketball team in all of Germany.
Oh, it’s a women’s sport. Why is that?
To imagine the sport: It is a mixture of handball and basketball. She got the shot at the basket from basketball and the fact that she’s less physical, it’s more about passing than dribbling. And from handball she has the defense and the game around the circle. I suspect disembodied play suits women more. And I believe that sports like basketball or football are more attractive to men because they are more widespread and can be played more professionally.
We keep coming back from your Facebook call of 2018.
No, no, that’s okay. So, you started the call – did many people get in touch immediately?
Yes. It was also special in the Facebook group called “Korbball Deutschland”. In which there were people who already know basketball. The response was really great. We were 13 at the first practice.
How many women do you need for a team?
You play five against five. We first played at the Oberhaching Sports University because the baskets and the field were already there. Otherwise there are no playing fields for netball in most halls in Munich, and no netball stands either. We have completely different lines than, for example, handball or basketball. But we were only able to play in Oberhaching during the summer holidays because otherwise the halls are occupied by clubs and other users. So we had the hot summer months and played indoors at 40 degrees (laughs). But it was cool: everyone was interested and happy that they could do the sport.
Were they mostly Franconian women who had come to Munich to study or work?
Yes. There were between ten and 15 people who were there in the first summer, and I would estimate there were ten of them from Franconia. Many people from the Schweinfurt area are in Munich to work. The other players came from the Allgäu or northern Germany.
And then soon the idea came up that you also wanted to take part in a league?
Exactly. But we were initially faced with the challenge of how to do it organizationally. We then made a list of all the halls in Munich and started calling them. And then the first call to TSV Milbertshofen was a direct hit. They were immediately open to accepting us as a new department – because the club hall was also being renovated. That’s why our fields and netball stands were then immediately integrated.
Handball is also played in Milbertshofen…
Yes, and also volleyball, basketball, football and many other sports.
Don’t you get confused with the many different lines on the hall floor: the lines for handball, volleyball, basketball and netball?
You’re used to that as a ball player. You are mostly in multi-purpose halls, where all the lines are drawn. Maybe the players in the other sports got confused at first because they didn’t know our lines, but we already knew everyone else.
Were you then able to start 2019 straight away?
And immediately with league games?
No, only with friendlies. A basketball season runs from October to March, so we were only able to start in the district league in Allgäu in October 2019.
And you were promoted to the district league in the very first season.
Exactly. And when we became champions in March 2020, Corona came. We were only able to resume continuous game operations in the 2022/23 season. In the district league we ended up in a midfield position.
How many players do you have now? You said you started in 2018 when you were 13.
We have a Whatsapp group with everyone active, there are 25 in it. But there is a core of 10 to 13 players who have been there since the beginning.
You played in the Bundesliga once. Is your basketball team at TSV Milbertshofen – at a lower level – also very performance-oriented or is it more of a hobby?
The training participation already applies to the list. You’ve been together longer now and feel like winning games. But we are also strongly influenced by the feeling that we are happy to be able to do the sport and have fun with it.
Then thank you very much…
… oh, one more thing.
There is a nice side effect: After the netball team in Munich worked out, there is a small wave. There were also Facebook calls in other cities, in Stuttgart …
…wait. Also from Franconian exiles?
Yes. There is also a permanent group in Berlin. I think it was also tried in Nuremberg and Hamburg, but I don’t know what the status is there.