July 9, 2014

EASIER DONE IN GERMANY:

How Germany went from bust to boom on the talent production line (Stuart James, 5/23/13, The Guardian)

German football is booming, reaping the rewards of the strategy drawn up after their dismal performances at Euro 2000, when Germany finished bottom of their group. Forced into an overhaul of youth football, the DFB, the Bundesliga and the clubs decided that the development of more technically proficient homegrown players would be in everyone's best interests. This led to the creation of academies right across the top two divisions.

The fruits are there for all to see. Joachim Löw, Germany's coach, is blessed with a generation of gifted young players - Julian Draxler (19), Andre Schürrle (22), Sven Bender (24), Thomas Müller (23), Holger Badstuber (24), Mats Hummels (24), Mesut Ozil (24), Ilkay Gundogan (22), Mario Götze (20), Marco Reus (23), Toni Kroos (23) ... the list goes on - and Dutt says there are more coming through in the under-21 side who will travel to Israel for the European Championship next month.

As for Saturday's Champions League final at Wembley, the DFB proudly points out that 26 of the players Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund named in their Uefa squads this season are homegrown and eligible to play for Germany. More than half of those players came through the DFB's talent development programme, which was introduced in 2003 with the aim of identifying promising youngsters and providing them with technical skills and tactical knowledge at an early age. Covering 366 areas of Germany, this impressive initiative caters for children aged 8 to 14 and is served by 1,000 part-time DFB coaches, all of whom must hold the Uefa B licence and are expected to scout as well as train the players. "We have 80 million people in Germany and I think before 2000 nobody noticed a lot of talent," Dutt says. "Now we notice everyone."

Some youngsters attending the development programme are already affiliated with professional clubs but others may be only turning out for their local junior side, which means the weekly DFB sessions are also a chance for Bundesliga teams to spot players.

It is the opposite of what happens in England, where the FA relies on clubs to develop youngsters. Dutt smiles when it is suggested to him that the DFB are doing the clubs' recruitment for them. "But if we help the clubs, we help us, because the players of our national teams - the youth teams and Joachim Löw's team - come from the clubs," he says.

The incredible depth of Germany's coaching resources, as well as the DFB's close relationship with Bundesliga clubs, helps to make the programme. According to Uefa, Germany has 28,400 (England 1,759) coaches with the B licence, 5,500 (895) with the A licence and 1,070 (115) with the Pro licence, the highest qualification. It is little wonder that Ashworth said last month that there will be no quick fix for English football. The country that invented the game has forgotten that we need people to teach it.

For Germany, post-Euro 2000 was about changing philosophies as well as employing more full-time coaches and upgrading facilities. The DFB wanted to move away from playing in straight lines and relying on "the German mentality" to win matches. Instead coaches focused on developing fluid formations that required the sort of nimble, dexterous players who would previously have been overlooked because of their lack of physical strength.
Posted by at July 9, 2014 6:45 PM
  
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