René Hecht, 61, thought about it for a long time and endured many sleepless nights racking his brains over what to do. His inner conflict culminated in the question: will he remain President of the German Volleyball Association (DVV) until the end of the 2024 election period or will he make his volunteer position available early? He made his decision on Saturday night at an extraordinary executive committee meeting, which was held as a video conference. The result: After five years in office, Hecht resigned with immediate effect.

Hecht told WELT AM SONNTAG that he was fed up with the intrigues, denunciations and false claims he had been exposed to since the structural reform he initiated. Unfortunately, many state associations did not have the will to modernize. They only care about petty-minded job retention or haggling.” This often led to disagreements and ultimately to the state associations and the volleyball league withdrawing their confidence in Hecht.

When Hecht took over the management function and thus responsibility for the then shattered association in the summer of 2018 after the resignation of the entire board, it was clear to him: “Something has to change radically. We urgently need more transparency, more participation and valuable sporting achievements.” Germany’s “Mister Volleyball”, who is listed as a record national player with 385 appearances, issued the credo: “If we want to change something, then we can only do it together.”

At the time, Hecht had no idea what exactly awaited him in the almost 400,000-member organization. “I suspected, sometimes feared, much of what I had encountered since then, but didn’t know. We have brought the bandage out of its slumber. In retrospect, of course, we also made mistakes. But you can only make a difference if you move.”

The Berliner, who had previously successfully led the capital’s regional association for more than a decade, self-critically admits that he had relied on full-time competencies for the board positions for too long, which did not exist. “During this time, I intensified the cooperation, some would also say: operationally intervened. I formulated more requirements and expectations in order to push the structural reform forward,” says Hecht: “However, there was no political majority in the association at the time to draw the personal conclusions. This wasted valuable time.”

The past five years have been an extraordinary challenge for the DVV. Nevertheless, a lot has been achieved under Hecht: By separating full-time and voluntary work, the association has positioned itself structurally for the future. Procedures and processes have been standardized, accounting and human resources have been fully digitized. Despite the pandemic and insolvency of Deutsche Volleyball Sport GmbH, the budget was consolidated and the high payment arrears of recent years were reduced.

The state associations were led into a common digital future and an internal competitive sport structural reform was initiated. “Employees willing to reform who trusted me, just like me, constantly busted their butts for a modern association. Unfortunately, we often fought against windmills,” says Hecht.

The managing director of a Berlin therapy center would have liked to have “played the last sentence and ended my term of office as planned in 2024 in order to continue to accompany the positive development of the past few years”. Instead, he is now clearing the way for new elections and wishing his successor “better luck than I had.” The love for his sport remains unbroken. “I will always be there for volleyball,” assures Hecht, who still holds a seat on the executive committee of the European Federation (CEV). He left open whether he would keep it.

In addition to Hecht, Vice-Presidents Volker Schiemenz, Holger Schell and Matthias Hach also resigned from the DVV, and board member Julia Frauendorf is also leaving the association. Attorney Katharina Dierlamm remains in office as Vice President.