On the Sabener Strasse, in the quiet Munich suburb of Harlaching, sits the home of the best
professional club team in the world. At the moment, there is no argument to this statement as
Bäyern Munich established themselves as the most powerful team in Europe by winning the
Champions League trophy for the fourth time last year in 2001. Their success in Europe is
impressive and the clubs? dominance in the Bundesliga is unquestioned, having won the German
title 17 times ? more than any other club.
Success at Bayern Munich is not a goal to be reached, but a way life. FC Bayern does not hope to
do well ? it expects to.
Everything for FC Bayern happens here at the Sabener Strasse complex with the exception for the
First (professional) team home matches which are played at the Olympic Stadium in Munich.
(Although, FCB will soon be moving into a new 280 million euro ($275m stadium.) Everything else
you will find here in Harlaching including close to 100 employees who work in administrative
offices, the official fan shop, a restaurant, a travel agency, and ticket sales office, as well as, the
training for all teams - from the First team down to the youth teams.
The 70,000 square meter (230,000 sq. ft.) facility includes five training fields ? 4 natural grass (one
with underground heating) and 1 astro-turf, team rooms (for visiting teams also), physio/medical
facilities, as well as an indoor sports hall. The First team area includes a large team room,
whirlpool and relaxation bath, doctor?s office and rehab center, and conference room with
audiovisual capabilities. The best training field is used only by the First team. The complex is
generally opened to the public and it is not unusual to have several thousand people show up to
watch a training session, especially before major matches. When large crowds are expected,
barriers are set up to allow the players free passage from the team room building to the training
field. The training field itself is enclosed with 12 ft high fencing. After training sessions, it is
common for the first team players to sign autographs for loyal fans.
The facility arrangement at FCB is unique as compared to some other high profile clubs, such as at
Manchester United and Ajax of Amsterdam, in that both the first team and the youth teams train at
the same location. Everyone involved seems particularly proud of this fact as they feel it is
important in terms of the unity of the club. The youth staff feels the ?togetherness? is a
developmental advantage at Bayern. It is a unique source of inspiration and motivation
considering the youth players observe and interact with the first team stars on a weekly basis.
THE JUNIOR TEAM
Bayern Munich has had a youth section for most of it?s existence but in 1995 it was restructured
and the youth teams became collectively known as The Junior Team. Karl-Heinz Rumminegge,
and then-manager, former Bayern and Germany star, Uli Hoeness, were dissatisfied with the level of
ball being played in Germany?s top league. They questioned the effectiveness of the current youth
system and set out to find ways to recruit and train better young players. Basically, they came to the
conclusion that it would make more sense to train new players rather than buy them. Saving money
in the transfer market was not their primary consideration. It made sense to develop young talent
not only technically and tactically, but also, and just as importantly, in the Bayern Munich
tradition, philosophy, and mindset. This was the way to become the best club team in the world.
Their conceptualizations were to raise the level of the youth system to that of other professional
development leaders, most notably, AFC Ajax of Amsterdam. The winds of change had begun to
blow. FC Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer agreed unreservedly and knighted them with the
responsibility of supplying the First team with players from within their own youth system.
The Junior Team is run by Werner Kern who has been responsible for the program for the last 4 of
the 7 years of its existence. Werner Kern began his career with Bayern Munich in the early 70?s, as
assistant to the First team and it was during this time when Kern identified one of the greatest
players to ever play at the club and for Germany: the current vice-president and Bayern icon,
Karl-Heinz Rumminegge. Mr. Kern eventually went onto head coaching positions at various first
and second division clubs in the Bundesliga before being lured away from the coaching ranks by
the Germany-based sporting goods giant, Adidas, in 1983. He accepted the position of
International Football Promotions Director, which involved assisting in organizing 3 World Cups and
was responsible for managing contracts for high-profile player sponsorship agreements including
that of his former prodigy Karl-Heinz Rumminegge.
It was Rumminegge who convinced his mentor to leave Adidas in 1998 and return to FC Bayern as
Junior Team director. He is quick to tell you it is the best job he has ever had. It was Kern who
established the current youth development philosophy at FCB. [ NEXT>>> ]
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|THE BOYS of BAYERN:
A look at the FC Bayern Munich Junior Team