By Peter McVitie: http://www.alwaysfitba.com
After writing individual posts on our trips to Borussia Monchengladbach and Schalke 04, we were charged with writing a report on our trip to Germany for the German Academic Exchange Service.
The aim of the trip was to compare and contrast some of the aspects of German football to that of Scottish football and the results we found from our trip to North Rhine-Westphalia were both eye-opening and mind-blowing.
Here is our report:
During our trip to Germany, we approached football clubs in the North Rhine-Westphalia area to arrange visits to their stadiums and training facilities in order to study them and examine the differences in the way clubs are run and organised between Scotland and Germany with a view to producing a video and writing articles based on our findings.
Borussia Monchengladbach and Schalke 04 both agreed to accommodate us and even set up interviews with club officials.
The hospitality showed by both clubs surpassed all expectations we had, pointing out a clear cultural difference between our countries which we witnessed outside of football as well. No club in Scotland, regardless of size or level, would have been so welcoming to two students as Borussia Monchengladbach and Schalke 04 were.Tweet Follow @PeterMcVitie
Borussia Monchengladbach gave us unsupervised, complete freedom of their stadium and allowed us to film a youth team training session and they also set up an interview with a coach, whilst the Gelsenkirchen side arranged interviews with three officials and even had their youth management assistant drive us around the complex to see the facilities they have at their disposal.
Where Scottish football is failing, in areas such as youth development, structuring of leagues and finances, Germany seems to excel. The Bundesliga attracts highest average attendances worldwide, whilst turnouts in Scotland are decreasing significantly. It also recorded the second-highest revenue among the European top-flight leagues last year and the governance of the game and that of its clubs means cases of sides entering administration and serious financial troubles have become a rarity (or are at least dealt with quickly and effectively), whereas such issues are rife throughout Scotland’s leagues.
It isn’t difficult to see why German football is performing so well. The resurgence of clubs such as Borussia Monchengladbach (who spent the majority of the 2010/11 season bottom of the Bundesliga yet were challenging for the title throughout 2011/12 and are now in the Champione League qualifiers) and Schalke 04 (finished 14th in the league in 2010/11, having spent the entire campaign in the bottom half of the table, but were challenging for the title the following year and qualified for the Champions League after a third place finish), speaks wonders of the German system. We noticed that their commitment to youth development is something no other team in Scotland can compete with, the fact that you can get a ticket for a game the calibre of Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayern Munich for less than that of a Scottish Third Division match like East Stirlingshire v Queens Park shows why these clubs can fill their stadiums every match, even in their darkest hour (Gladbach still attracted capacity crowds when they were bottom of the league). Low ticket prices, great atmosphere and the prospect of seeing some home grown talent plying their trade for the club is key to attracting people in the nation to support their local clubs, something which doesn’t happen in Scotland.
Borussia Monchengladbach allowed us to attend and film a training session for age groups from U8 to U12 and we were very impressed by what we saw. As coaches of similar age groups, we had never seen such elaborate, intelligent training routines, nor could we believe how technically adept, aware and intelligent each child was. When you see such a large gap in quality between players and coaching styles of both countries in such age groups, it shows how wide that void is in other aspects of the nations.
What we observed in Germany was like nothing we had ever seen before. The facilities for youth teams of both clubs were as plentiful as they were impressive, the resources and training apparatus available to the youth players were incredible and the clubs’ philosophies and emphasis on having fun and developing youth shows their devotion to the future and illustrates the difference in attitudes between our nations. Where Germany look to improve and develop youngsters into playing an intelligent, suitable style of play, Scotland’s coaches commit to competitive football regardless of age group, only at the detriment to players’ development of technique and awareness and our lack of investment limits the resources available to producing talented players, yet in Germany that isn’t a problem and they continue to expand – Schalke 04 spend €4 million per year on improving their youth system and are building more pitches and a stand on the sight of their old stadium for their youth teams to train and play on.
Throughout our trip we witnessed many cultural differences between Scotland and Germany and the differences in every aspect of the nations’ football organisation and style only goes to multiply and reiterate those differences. We witnessed first-hand huge differences in the footballing philosophies, structures, attitudes and facilities between Germany and Scotland and we are eager to communicate this via a video project and articles based on what we saw. Germany continues advancing in these aspects and more whilst Scotland continues to struggle. We can learn a lot from our European neighbours.