|THE BOYS of BAYERN:
A look at the FC Bayern Munich Junior Team
Altogether there are about 180 youth players, divided into 12 teams of players ages 6 through 18.
Team rosters remain unchanged from the beginning of the season to the end, and, like Ajax
Amsterdam, each player is trained exclusively for one or two positions. The youth teams are
separated by birth year and it is possible to play up if the player is capable.
Six of the 11 youth teams play regularly against opponents two or three years older. This makes even
greater demands on them, both physically and psychologically. The teams and their opponents are
A1 Team: South Regional League (ages 17-18)
B1 Team: South Bavarian League (ages 15-16)
B2 Team (ages 15-16): County League A Teams (ages 17-18)
C1 Team (age 14): County League B Teams (ages 15-16)
C2 Team (age 13): District League C1 Teams (age 14)
D1 Team (age 12): County League C Teams (ages 13-14)
D2 Team (age 11): County League D Teams (ages 12-13)
E1 Team (age 10): E1 Teams (age 10)
E2 Team (age 9): E1 Teams (age 10)
F1 & F2 Teams: F1 & F2 Teams (ages 7-8)
A modern playing system was developed specifically for the new Junior Team, in order to give them
a solid understanding of the game as quickly as possible. All players aged 10 through 18 - that is, all
ages that play with teams of 11 on a standard-size field-practice this system. The younger players,
who play 7 vs. 7 on smaller fields, do not.
All youth teams wear the same Adidas uniforms as the professional team with the only difference
being a Junior Team logo, designed by Karl-Heinz Rummaging himself, on the sleeve where the fist
team bares the Bundesliga logo.
There are four practices every week, plus two extra practices for the 14- to 18-year-olds.
The clubs scouting network is extensive, with scouts located not only all over Germany and Europe,
but the world. The game is so competitive at the highest level that top clubs always have there eyes
open for players with potential for the professional level. The reality is, however, that the scouts focus
mainly on the area within a 2 ?3 hour driving radius of the club. Players must be able to commute to
training easily. The Junior Team has housing for talent from abroad, but for only 13 players and it is
unusual that the club will take a player into residency before the age of 14 ? most players are at least
If a player is considered for residency, the club understands it is a big step for the player and his
family and the club accepts full responsibility for the care of the young player. Academics is a good
example: the club employs six teachers that are responsible for monitoring the schoolwork of the
youth players in all the major subjects and even offers a German language teacher for players from
abroad. Players who don?t keep up in the classroom are not permitted to train or play. "We can't
promise their parents that one day they'll play professionally for FC Bayern," says Mr. Kern, "but we
can promise that they won't neglect their studies."
The older players keep a busy week. Six training session each week, academic classes and
homework, or for some, job training. When the weekend arrives it will be at least one match, or
occasionally travel abroad for international tournaments. Some people think this is to much for a
youth player to handle, but remember ? this is Bayern Munich. "The more intensively youth players
work, the better they get," says Franz Beckenbauer. "We see this with the so-called small countries
all the time: Their players aren't superhuman; they just work unbelievably hard. Here in Germany it
can be very difficult to break through the mental conditioning against wanting to work harder." The
youth coaches also meet regularly to compare notes with their counterparts from the First team. "We
have a very good relationship with the professional coaches," Dremmler says. "No doubt about it: FC
Bayern does a lot for its youth!"
The Junior Team trainers understand that their role is not to simply train their players. Their job is to
produce players capable of competing at the highest level and they offer their charges every
opportunity to succeed. As an added enticement for older youth players, Ottmar Hitzfeld, the head
coach of the first team at FCB, invites 2 or 3 players, who are playing well, to train and play with the
First team. One can only wonder what a moment that must be for a young player to step onto the
field with his heroes.
Older (16-18 year olds) players do get paid, but it is not what some may think. Players are allocated
200 to 300 marks ($100-$150) per month. "We don't want to send them down that financial road too
soon," says Wolfgang Dremmler, who is also responsible for scouting for the adult teams; "otherwise
they develop the wrong priorities. If a player is good and proves he can contribute to the club, then
he'll get plenty of opportunities to earn money later on."
Older Junior Team players who have played well enough to remain in the system through ages 16-18
are under no illusions of how easy or difficult it will be to make that final jump to full-time
professional player. They are constantly reminded there are no guarantees. Werner Kern: "We have
an exceptional set of demands here. You have to be a player of international class. Ottmar Hitzfeld
simply doesn't have the opportunity to experiment with young players. We are under far too much
pressure to succeed." If
Bayern?s success rate continues with the Junior Team, a focused youth player also knows that if you
want to go pro, there is no better place to receive your youth player education than at FCB. If Bayern
does not retain one of it?s youth players as a professional then he is up for grabs from any other club
who may be interested in him. "There is no better shop window than our reserves. There were 100
scouts in the stands for our game against Burghausen. Each and every one of them knows that
Bayern players have had an exceptional football education." [ NEXT>>> ]
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