All amateur soccer league matches have been suspended nationwide since late October 2020. Daniel Peetz is the coach of SV Budberg’s U17 women’s team (players turning 15 and 16). It is unclear when he will play again. “This situation is already having a dramatic impact on children and young people,” Peetz told DW. “In addition to physical training, social interaction is one of the most important objectives of a club. And this is not happening at the moment,” he said.
In his team he has already seen cases of distancing, frustration and almost depressive features. And this situation, according to the 38-year-old coach, is also repeated in other teams: “For many young people, especially from socially disadvantaged regions, football is the only engine. The consequences will continue to be felt in the coming years.” Peetz and many of his fellow coaches rely on digital coaching. Under the motto “fitness on the screen”, they try to fulfill at least a little with their soccer and social tasks.
The DFB, concerned about the future of German football
“It’s a disaster”
The development of young footballers is currently stagnant. “This clearly has an impact on our work at the youth performance center,” says Roland Virkus, youth director of the Bundesliga’s Borussia Mönchengladbach. “When the quarry weakens, the top also weakens. The boys were not born in high-performance centers, but they reached the big clubs through small clubs,” he clarified. “Players who are about to make the jump to the higher categories cannot show (their skills) at the moment. There are no games, nobody can watch training and there are no soccer scouts. That is why someone can be left out again, “he added. For the boys, the current situation regarding their football future “is a disaster”.
“We can not lose more time”
Regardless of the difficult time due to the pandemic, the German Football Association (DFB) is very concerned about the country’s youth academy: “If we do not act now, we will risk the future of German football,” wrote DFB director Oliver Bierhoff, in an article in the newspaper “Welt am Sonntag”: “We cannot waste any more time.”
Bierhoff launched the “Future Project”, in which, for example, the youth national leagues will cease to function as before, the rankings, promotions and relegation will be omitted, to be able to focus more on the formation. “Children and young people have more fun playing soccer again, have more contact with the ball and spend more time playing,” said Bierhoff.
The trigger for these changes was several defeats by DFB youth teams in major events. In addition, there was the shameful performance of the national team at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and, more recently, the 6-0 debacle against Spain, last November.
Oliver Bierhoff, Sports Director of the DFB
It is worth taking a look abroad
Compared to other countries, Germany lags behind in talent development. “In France, school education has been equated. Young footballers, for example, have a 25-hour week of football alone,” says Martin Jedrusiak-Jung, a professor at the German University of Sports in Cologne.
In England, in 2012 the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). “The English have invested a lot of money not only in players, but also in knowledge, infrastructure and, above all, in training of coaches,” DFB youth coach Meikel Schönweitz told German television ZDF.
“Above all, great importance is attached to individual promotion. And the conditions allow this to really take place,” he clarified. This means, for example, that there are no more competitions in the youth category. The English league, In cooperation with the FA (Football Association) and the regional associations from U9 to U19, it offers a total of around 6,000 matches annually, in which special importance is attached to the evolution of the player and not just to winning matches.
Improve training of coaches
In Germany there have also been mistakes in training coaches in the past, says Roland Virkus. In particular, social competence has been neglected: “We have to specialize in training, because the coaches are closest to the player and have the greatest influence on his development.” “This also includes the player’s agents and parents. Everyone is pulling players because everyone wants to benefit from them. Often, results and successes take precedence over talent development,” he laments.
(rme / ers)