It is very common now days to compare the German national football team to a "well oiled machine". Yes the comparison holds ground. Till the late 90's they have displayed grit in a physical form of play. Since 2006 they have shown a 360 degree turn around and presented a fluid attacking form of play. Spectators world over have drooled and swayed to the display. They were so fluid in their play and formation specially tournament planning, they won the world cup without a center forward being on the field for full 90 minutes. The credit goes to Joachim Loew for master planning. But would Jogi Loew have achieved the same without the set of players he had at his disposal? No. He had a problem of plenty at his disposal. Young, talented, disciplined youngsters raring to go. So much that it became an envy for the opponents.
So how these talented youngsters were bred? The Germans have mastered the system so well that in the twelve year preceding the world cup win in Brazil, the Germans have not only built 52 centre's of excellence's to school the most promising talents but also 366 regional coaching bases where 1300 professionals teach youngsters the basics of modern game.
The foundation was laid by then national coach Berti Vogts. He warned DFB (German Football Association) that no talents were coming through and the Germany was resting on its past glory and would be soon run over by others. His warning saw the light of day in Euro 2000. The team had some of the big names such as Oliver Kahn, Lothar Mathaus, Dietmar Hamann, Christian Ziege, Oliver Bierhoff and rising star Michael Ballack. They had Romania, England and Portugal for company. The Germans failed to win a single game in the group and scored only one goal. They made a group stage exit from Euro 2000. Media was quick to proclaim Germany as a "dying football nation". This was enough for DFB to kickstart the process of overhaul of the football culture in Germany.
All the stakeholders, namely DFB, Bundesliga and the clubs came together and a unanimous decision was taken that development of more technically proficient homegrown players would be in everyone's best interest. The first step taken was to gain knowledge from where ever they can. They started visiting the neighbors to understand how the Dutch, French and even Swiss produced creative footballers. Germany borrowed even from a country that nobody thought of. USA. How the knowledge was inculcated can be understood when Jurgen Klinsmann was appointed the national coach. Having his residence in California he exactly knew how the Americans put emphasis on data analysis and sports science. He even used american fitness coaches who brought in new methods and the results where to be seen in 2006 world cup. Analyst were appointed for data churning. Dossiers were prepared for each game which ran into several hundred pages.
Dietrich Weise can be called the architect of this successful youth system. He traveled the length and breadth of the country to find the talents and to train them. But finding talent was one task and it was not enough. The question was who will train these players. As a result high emphasis was given to education and development of coaches at both grassroot level and top of the level. What was the result of development of coaches? Here is a number to ponder : as per 2013 UEFA data there are 28,400 UEFA B license holder's, 5,500 UEFA A license coaches and 1,070 with UEFA Pro license.
The overhaul of the existing system was also about changing philosophies. DFB ensured through coaches development program that the entire system teaches the same philosophy which will be finally inculcated in the national team.
Along with developing the youth system in the country, the league was also overhauled. Every club in the top tier of Bundesliga or Bundesliga 1 was asked to implement youth development program. This meant that each club of the Bundesliga have to have their own youth academy. Club licensing criteria was also made stringent that if a club fails to have a youth academy its license will be not renewed or it will be not eligible to play in Bundesliga. To make sure the clubs doesn't pay just lip service to the condition, stringent checks were put in place by DFB. Every three years the DFB's inspectors arrive at each Bundesliga club to put their academies to the test. There are about 800 questions to be answered covering everything from training to how the youngsters are supported at school. They must also have sound finances and the liquidity to cover their spending plans. A key element in maintaining the liquidity is the "50+1" plan. This means minimum 51% ownership of the club must be with the supporters. This way the club can maintain the culture and also engagement level of fans is also at high level.
Also great emphasis is given to academic work. A staff with a academic and teaching background is favoured. So that they can provide educational help when ever needed.
Today each region in Germany has a regional training centre apart from those been run by clubs. Bundesliga clubs have also understood to maintain financial liquidity they must develop more home grown talent than recruiting from other part of the world. And now they are reaping benefit of the same. Once a question was put to DFB - that they are doing the recruitment for the clubs. The answer was " if we help the clubs, we help us. Cause the players of our national team come from the clubs."
But one thing is to be remembered - "that in Germany even revolutions are well structured and carried out with discipline and order."
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. MyIndMakers is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of MyindMakers and it does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.