Two Worplesdon Rangers FC players, Jack Crooke (U13 Trojans) and Marc Horncastle (U12 Warriors) travelled to Germany last week for the Coerver Pro-Tour to FC Bayern Munich. Key sponsor Adidas provides Coerver with access to partner clubs around the world – and as two founder members of the Guildford/West London Coerver Performance Academy, Jack and Marc were fortunate to experience German academy coaching at its best and had an opportunity to watch the FC Bayern first team play and train in Munich.
Currently top of the German Bundesliga, Bayern is the third largest football club in the world and the trip offered a fascinating glimpse into the world of European elite football.
After arriving in Munich, our two excited players boarded the transfer coach to the centre of Munich and the Novotel Munchen hotel on Hochstrasse, which would be our home for the next four days. Just before pulling away, the boys spotted the team coach belonging to Bayern’s Bundesliga rivals, Eintracht Frankfurt – no doubt in town for the match the following day!
Coerver welcomed about 90 players from their West London and West Midlands centres at the hotel and the boys were presented with their FC Bayern Munich training kits, courtesy of sponsor Adidas.
Scott Wright, Director of Coerver Coaching for England and Wales, welcomed all the players and parents and provided us with an overview of FC Bayern – it’s history, club philosophy and management – and there was a football knowledge quiz suited to both the players (do you know your Ribery from your Robben?) and the parents (more Beckenbauer and Rummenigge!).
There was advice to the players on diet, fitness, hydration and sleep during the tour, as well as a graphic PowerPoint slide reminding players of the desired colour for their urine over the next few days!
Day 1 (Morning): Coaching at SoccArena, Olympiapark, Munich
Alarms set for an 0630 breakfast, we transferred to Munich’s Olympic Park, home of the SoccArena set-up, an indoor, heated set of synthetic training pitches, all with their own netted enclosures and which left you thinking ‘why can’t we have a facility like this in Guildford?’!
The Coerver players were divided into five groups and rotated through five, 30-minute drills, with a small-sided tournament to finish. Coaching for these sessions was provided by Scott Wright, National Director for Coerver England and Wales, Rafael Wieczorek, National Director for Coerver Germany and by Bundesliga Academy Coaches from 1860 Munich. Not only did the boys get to sample different coaching styles (delivered in German and English!) but they also had an opportunity to get to know some of their German Coerver counterparts, training as they did in mixed nationality groups.
After the photo-op, it was back to the hotel for a shower and lunch before getting back on the coach and heading for the Allianz Arena….
Day 1 (Afternoon): FC Bayern Munich 1-0 Eintracht Frankfurt – Allianz Arena, Munich
Ahead of their opportunity to be coached at Bayern’s training facility the following day, the players all received tier two seats for the 3.30pm ko between FC Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt. Security at the game was phenomenal – all spectators were filtered in via two gates and each subject to a pat-down and bag search. Reassuring – but no mean feat for a capacity 75,000+ crowd.
This was the boys’ first opportunity to experience the awesome 75,024 seater Allianz Arena, widely known for its exterior ‘shell’ of inflated plastic panels – and its reputation for being the first stadium in the world to offer a full-colour changing exterior (the stadium lights up red at night when FC Bayern Munich play at home; white when it hosts the German national team). FC Bayern Munich share the stadium with TSV 1860 Munchen; both teams having played there since 2005-2006.
With the two teams at opposite ends of the league, the match should theoretically have been Bayern’s for the taking. However, after a 0-0 draw between the two teams in the first part of the season, Frankfurt proved once again to be no mere pushover. Bayern struggled to take their chances but won through on the basis of a breathtaking and acrobatic scissor kick from Franck Ribery in the 20th minute of the game. Class act!
Day 2 (Morning): Coaching at FC Bayern’s Training Facility and a Coerver Surprise!
Another calorie-controlled breakfast and an early start by coach, this time to FC Bayern Munich’s impressive training facility (impressive to an outsider that is; they themselves are looking to move….).
Things got under way by 08.30 and again the players (this time sporting their full Bayern training kit) were divided into a number of rotated groups to receive coaching from Scott Wright, Rafael Wieczorek and two Bundesliga Academy Coaches, this time from FC Bayern Munich. The early start proved to be helpful today as we were outdoors on 4G pitches, with temperatures rising to about 20C by midday.
A Chance to Watch the Bayern First Team Train!
This, as it turned out, was our surprise – an invitation to stay on at the ground and observe an open training session run for the FC Bayern Munich first team. Excitement had been mounting ever since eagle-eyed Sean Crooke spotted Manuel Neuer in the staff cafe towards the end of our coaching session! Needless to say, this captured the hearts and minds of our players, parents and Coerver coaches alike, as we were able to watch the first team be put their paces. Yesterday’s match squad were given lighter duties, while those on the bench ran through a structured programme for about 90 minutes, which we were able to watch at close quarters.
A few of the players even made themselves available for ‘selfies’ and shirt-signing at the end!
Day 2 (Afternoon/Evening): Sightseeing In Munich
After the excitement of the morning and a tram journey back to our hotel, Sunday afternoon provided an opportunity to forget all about football and visit the many attractions on offer in the beautiful Bavarian city of Munchen. Our hotel was conveniently located within 10 minutes walk from Marienplatz, the central square in Munich. Apart from the stunning architecture, the boys remarked how clean the city centre was!
Needless to say, any trip to Munich has to involve beer at some point (strictly for the adults, you understand….) and after a thirsty afternoon looking at the sights, the Guildford clan found themselves in the three-floor Hofbrauhaus beer hall, which dates back to the 16th century. It includes a Bavarian restaurant and live music and shows, all with a very upbeat and friendly vibe. After 6pm, the local beer is served in 1 litre steins, for the princely (or should that be pricey?) sum of Euro 8.40. The Bavarian suckling pig came on good recommendation – and was delicious!
Day 3 (Morning): Allianz Arena Museum and Tour
After checking out of our hotel on Monday morning, we journeyed back by coach to the Allianz Arena, in order to visit the museum and undertake the stadium tour…..
The tour was a powerful reminder of the great and the good associated with German football and how trophy hungry the top international clubs are. It was touching to see a memorial inside the museum dedicated to the Manchester United ‘Busby Babes’ who lost their lives in the Munich air disaster of 1958.
We then set off on a guided tour of the stadium, which took in a pitch side view, the players’ tunnel and changing rooms and the press room. Our tour guide, Julian, was a mine of information, the key fact being that Catering had sold 17,000 litres of beer two days before at the Frankfurt match and nearly 25,000 litres of soft drinks!
Interestingly, the complex was undergoing a rapid makeover when we were there, with the stadium staff having 24 hours to clear up after Saturday’s match and prepare for the UEFA Champions’ League fixture against Benfica the next day (Tuesday).
Unbelievably, one of the key tasks on such occasions is to mask the names and signage of Bundesliga sponsors and replace them with those relating to the UEFA Champions League. So, for example, any visible reference to the FCB beer sponsor, Paulaner, had to be covered up and replaced with Heineken signage! In a similar vein, Samsung TV monitors hanging on the walls all had masking tape placed over the manufacturer’s name…the same for Hublot clocks and watches and to say nothing of the various Audi cars which all had to be shrouded ahead of the Benfica fixture. For the record, all FCB players drive Audis as their ‘company car’, while 1860 Munich players receive a free Volkswagen….you can draw your own conclusions!
And that (after a quick visit to the Fan Shop), sadly, was that. One final coach transfer back to the airport and the final leg of the journey back to a chilly and showery London Heathrow. Next year the rumour is of a return visit to Real Madrid in Valdebebas – watch this space!