Thursday, 28 April 2011

The German (DFB) Solution to Young Player Development

This post covers an article written in the FA's coaching journal.  Not everyone is a member of FACA so may not have seen this and I have decided to show parts of it here as I found it to be an excellent read.  It is also something people on twitter have recently been discussing around the link between developing players in the grassroots and the elite level of the game.  Many believe there is space for some kind of regional development role in England and this is something covered extensively in the article.  It certainly contains food for thought on the FA's latest review of young player development.

UEFA Study Visit - Germany 2010
Joachim Low's Germany side won plaudits from across the game for their impressive performance at last year's World Cup.  Playing a brand of football based on intelligent use of possession, clever movement and incisive counter-attacking play, Germany shed many of the stereotypes with which their playing style has been traditionally associated.  Many of the key performers in this side were young players promoted from their 2009 U21 European Championship winning side.
To learn more about the changes that have taken place in German football, delegations from the English, French and Spanish Football Associations recently visited Cologne in Germany, for an Elite Young Player Development seminar hosted by the German Football Association (DFB).  The three-day visit, part of UEFA's study visit scheme, allowed the exchange of best practice ideas between these prestigious football nations and an opportunity for the DFB to outline the restructure of their coaching and talent identification programme.

Study visit content:
- Overview and analysis of DFB talent identification programme
- Seminar series on the rationale, history and success of DFB's Youth Development Programme.
- 1 day visit to Cologne FC of the Bundesliga for a review of their Youth Development Programme

German football: background and context
Following poor performances at the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championships two years later, German football was, as the DFB describe: "at an all time low".  With the age of the European Championship squad standing at thirty-one and few signs of a promising generation to take their place- only one player in the Euro 2000 squad was aged Under 21 -it was agreed that a review and restructure of the elite youth development programme was imperative to ensure future success.

Proposal for change
The review process concluded that 'increased opportunity' for all young German players irrespective of their background, geographical location or educational arrangements was necessary.  Recruitment had to be nationwide; and the talent net had to be cast much wider than the, already exhausted, areas in close proximity to the professional clubs.  The DFB professed that at that time the recruitment system was something akin to a "lottery", with professional clubs running their Academy systems as individual entities.
The proposal amounted to a daunting task; one which was dependant on the DFB, the Professional clubs and amateur (grassroots) game working closely together.  Clear leadership was required.  Cautious of the potential bureaucracy the proposals may trigger- in particular the issues of finance and staffing - the DFB simply established and implemented a new youth development structure, meaning that the clubs had to conform.
In addition, it was also agreed that the DFB's vision and philosophy - detailing how the game should be played - was to be communicated to all those involved in Young Player Development.

Widening Opportunity
The approach adopted by the DFB was structured around four pillars:
- DFB Support Bases
- DFB Regional Centres
- Elite School Programme
- Professional Club Academy programme

Support Bases
In 2001, the DFB introduced 120 support bases to increase opportunities for scouting and coaching young players in the amateur game.  In 2002, following the success of the first batch of support bases, this number increased to approximately 360.
- The Support Base coaching programme focuses on players in the U11-U14 age-groups, with one session per age-group provided each week.
- Each base is staffed with 2 or 3 UEFA B qualified trainers along with a regional organiser/coach.  The coaches who work part-time, earn approximately 300 Euro per month.
- Each base supports approximately 40-60 clubs, with DFB coaches providing CPD for clubs in their region.
- Support bases in non-academy regions ensure young players with potential have the same opportunity of entering into the talent structure as those players in the proximity of professional academies.
- All the trainers involved in the programme, approximately 1,000 in total, scout for potential talent amongst the 2 million young players who play the game at amateur level each weekend.

Regional Centres
Promising players identified at the Support Bases are invited to attend a Regional Centre.
- The DFB have 29 regional centres -each employing a full time director.
- Coaching is provided for players in the U12/13 and U14/15 age-groups.  The programme is open for both boys and girls.
- Players train once a week at the Regional Centre in addition to regular coaching sessions at their amateur club.  The development programme followed at the regional centre is controlled by the DFB.
- Quotas on attendee numbers are not imposed; if a player displays talent they are given a place at the centre.
- Under 12 and Under 13 players train together, as do those aged Under 14 and Under 15.  This structure hopes to provide any 'late developing' players with the time and support needed to reach their potential.

Elite school overview:
- Each elite school is no more than a 10 minute journey to the Academy club.
- Whilst most children leave school at 16, the gifted and talented may extend until 17 if they need extra time out of school to pursue other talents.
- As part of the agreement all pupils, including footballers, must finish their final exams.
- The DFB pay the schools approximately 30,000 Euros to participate in the scheme.
- The school, club and government work together to ensure both the football and academic strands develop cohesively.  The government assist by funding the employment of additional staff for player education and tuition.

Professional Game
All 36 German professional clubs provide an Academy programme focusing on the development of young players - this is done with the guidance of the DFB.  In addition, ten amateur clubs have been granted academy status having met the necessary criteria.  The minimum requirements include: 3 football pitches, 3 full time trainers, a development programme and a strategy to cooperate with neighbouring schools to develop the Elite School programme.  Every three years each Academy is subject to an independent audit.  The audit, utilises 250 criteria and is linked to a financial bonus drawn from UEFA solidarity funding.

Measures of success
In 2001, only 8% of the players playing regularly in the Bundesliga were under the age of 21.  This figure now stands at 16% (76 players).  The DFB directly attribute this increase to the changes made to the coaching and scouting programmes.  Within the group of 76 players, 27 were developed in Support Bases and were transferred to an academy club between the ages of U13 and U16.  35 players progressed through the Academy system from the age of U11.
Resultantly, German national teams have enjoyed resurgence.  One of the most encouraging aspects of the World Cup 2010 tournament was the successful integration of a number of U21 players into the senior squad.  Furthermore, in the two years previous to the Finals, the German National Youth teams had all achieved success becoming UEFA champions at U17 and U21 (2009) and U19 (2008) level.
The status of coaching as a profession has also been heightened.  With over 1,700 part-time coaches working across the country - 700 in the Bundesliga and 1,000 in the Support Bases - as well as 271 full-time staff in professional club academies, there are more qualified coaches employed in the German game than ever before.


  1. Thanks for that!
    I wonder as you put it: if a player displays talent they are given a place at the centre.

    How DFB measure/examine potential talent?

  2. Good day everybody here i will like to be a coach and i would prefer germany or spain to attend the coaching course education anybody with useful information should pls email me @