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Monday, September 25, 2023

The truth: Massive children’s football 2.0

Due to the current situation, the German Football Association is now using every means possible to train the very youngest kickers to become world champions.

German national football team men with children in the stadium

Can these kids save German football from now on? Photo: dpa

After a dribbling solo, the beefy striker checks the petite central defender with his left into the grass and hammers the ball into the net. The eight-year-old goalkeeper doesn’t have the slightest chance. While the little players of the DFB 2038 perspective team sneak across the pitch with their heads hanging, the giant men of TSV Oerlinghausen are already in a good mood on their way back to their own half.

The result is devastating, as at the end of the first half it was already 456:0 for the men’s national league team. Luckily, the ice cream truck arrives after the game.

“But only for the winners! For you whistlers it means running extra laps and then off to the ice barrel,” Hans-Joachim Watzke whispers to the kids from the sidelines. The vice president of the DFB is responsible for the professional orientation of the association and has recently been personally responsible for promoting young talent.

Today he would like to present the Ü-9 selection and his training concept for children’s football 2.0 to the press. While Germany’s next golden generation trots into the dressing room for a peppery half-time sermon from their coach Felix Magath, Watzke begins the tour with us through the new DFB high-performance training center in Marsberg in the Sauerland region.

Tiny pimp with gloves

“Football has to be fun,” the 64-year-old explains on the way to a neighboring practice field. “First and foremost, me, the coach, the association and the sponsors. But even then there is still enough fun left for the children. Take our goalkeeper training for example. We start at the tender age of five with standard men’s goals. This presents challenges for the world goalkeepers of tomorrow and fuels their ambition.”

Watzke points to a gate the size of a double-decker bus. It is only with difficulty that we can discover a tiny pimp with gloves in the middle, which is easily overcome by his teammates every time during shooting practice.

“In addition, with our concept, the strikers have the experience of success that the base always demands. The fact that our goalkeepers have to go to a rest home every few months because of burnout only makes them tougher in the long run.” We walk on and are shown the infamous weight room in the adjacent building complex, where a dozen six-year-olds are currently working on the weights and rowing benches .

“Athletics and fitness are the be-all and end-all in modern football,” hisses BVB boss Watzke as he lights a cigarette and is handed a freshly tapped Pilsner by his assistant. Unfortunately, for legal reasons you are not allowed to start before primary school age.

“Well, you rascal!” Watzke grabs a guy who happens to be passing by for a press photo and ruffles his hair so wildly that his hair stands up and crackles. He hits him on the head several times.

“So, now go ahead and train again, you plug, otherwise there will be a bang!” he sends after the blonde boy in a Westphalian tongue-lashing.

Completely limit yourself to yelling

We follow Watzke and his entourage through the hallway into the modern conference room. Here children regularly receive career tips from former Bundesliga players. According to Watzke, the guests are selected with the greatest care. “As lecturers, we only invite failed ex-professionals who have to embarrass themselves in the one-two talk group for their livelihood as TV football experts,” the Borussian raves while the empty pilsner glass is exchanged for a full one. “The shocking examples usually make motivational speeches unnecessary and the coach can limit himself entirely to yelling during the game.”

Our tour with “Aki” Watzke ends where it began. On the way to the artificial turf pitch, we meet eleven seasoned senior players who are licking their ice balls, while the DFB team, which is inferior by three digits, is not only literally lying on the ground.

When Watzke rolled three powerful header pendulums from the 1970s onto the pitch to encourage him, resistance arose. After a brief discussion and a shout of attack from the captain, the mutinous horde storms towards the association vice-president armed with medicine balls. A short orgy of violence is followed by the entire squad fleeing to the nearby trampoline play paradise.

All we can do is congratulate the official who has woken up from his fainting state. “Aki” Watzke actually managed to lay the foundation for one last happy generation with his fabulous children’s program. Respect!

The truth on taz.de

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