A very successful year of football will soon conclude for German football, yet DFB general secretary Helmut Sandrock, DFB sporting director Hansi Flick and national team general manager Oliver Bierhoff won’t be complaining about a lack of work. Hence the sarcasm when DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach, talking about the “project of the century”, the DFB Academy, said: “They weren’t busy enough so decided to take on this project as well.”
2014 will always be remembered as the year Germany won the World Cup in Brazil, but an even more important decision for the Association’s future was made in Frankfurt. The DFB is building an academy and German football will get a new home. Just days before Christmas, the DFB hosted an event in the Otto-Fleck-Schneise with its motto “DFB 2024” to outline the basic progression in the future. The milestone in the upcoming decade will be the relocation of DFB’s headquarters, as it is closely tied with the construction of the DFB Academy in Frankfurt Niederrad. “The future of the DFB will take place there,” said Wolfgang Niersbach.
The architects of this future are DFB’s current policy makers and they have decided to let the real architects have a go. Architects around the world are working hard to be part of the construction of Germany’s footballing future. The DFB has started a competition, which has developed into a World Cup of its own, with strong representation from Europe and especially Germany, almost like in Brazil.
The international architects competition for the construction of the new DFB Academy will go on until May 2015. 174 of 213 applications were sent from Germany, with 36 arriving from across Europe, while some applicants came from Mexico, Japan and the United States. The field has been reduced in the meantime to 30 proposals by a jury containing representatives of the DFB, the city and renowned architects. Helmut Sandrock outlined the upcoming timetable: “We will announce one winner and four runners-up in May.”
That’s when we will know what the DFB’s future will look like. The price is already known: 89 million euros. “That’s a huge sum of money,” said Sandrock. The sum is financed by a number of means, including the restructuring of assets, while the DFB has also gained 7.6 million euros in grants from UEFA and FIFA. However, the DFB is still required to raise a substantial amount of money themselves and everyone is certain that it will be a good investment.
Dr. Rainer Koch spoke as DFB’s 1st Vice-President of Amateur Football about the foundation of Germany’s football: “The academy will not be competitor to the regional sport schools. That’s why I also speak from the amateur clubs’ point of view that every euro that’s spent on the academy is a euro well spent.”
National team general manager Oliver Bierhoff is one of the academy’s initiators. He is convinced that it will shape the development of German football. “The main idea is that we provide the footballing expertise,” he said. “To obtain and convey football knowledge and improve the sport on its different levels is our aim. The DFB Academy will take the Association and its capabilities to another level. The DFB will be able to explore new and exciting areas.”
Towards the end of 2014, Bierhoff feels that “the right moment has come”. The regional football associations are backing the project, the DFB presidential board passed the decision without a single vote against and the Association has the momentum of the triumph in Brazil and successes for the youth teams. ”And in Hansi Flick, we have a world-class sporting director,” added Bierhoff.
That world-class sporting director named a concrete example as to how the future will be worked on in the academy. A detailed analysis is completed by the management after every major tournament. After the 2014 World Cup it was discovered that one-on-one situations in defence and attack will become even more important in football in the future. Getting numbers forward yet avoiding being outnumbered at the back is a recipe for success.
“The academy will bring the best experts together who will search answers for questions like: How can we improve? What can the manager do? How can we enhance our basic training in order to profit from it later?” said Flick. “Visual awareness and the ability to act quickly under pressure have become very important.”
“Research and development is becoming more important by the day,” explained Flick. “We have to bring the best experts together. Then we will be able to set trends and recognise tendencies.”