Munich method

By Shan Jie in Shanghai Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/1 23:53:42

Bayern China chief talks cooperative venture with China youth system

Rouven Kasper, Managing Director of FC Bayern Munich China Photo: Li Hao/GT

Editor's Note:

FC Bayern Munich has been supporting China to develop its youth soccer system. Youth coaches from the club have trained 727 soccer teachers since 2017 at its football schools in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province and Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province. The Bundesliga giant is also planning to build two full-time football schools in Shenzhen and Taiyuan, Shanxi Province. The Global Times (GT) interviewed Rouven Kasper (Kasper), Managing Director of FC Bayern Munich China.

GT: What role does the youth system play at FC Bayern?

Kasper: When you look at the development of football, the market generally is getting more and more financially intensive. Just look at the enormous amounts you need to pay for good players these days. There you see that youth development generally is getting more and more important, that you need to produce your own talents in-house, based on your system and bring them step by step onto a world-class level, like we did a few times with our players - for example with ­Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm or our Thomas Müller. This is also why we invested around 70 million euros ($80 million) into our own youth development and opened last year our new FC Bayern Campus. This outstanding youth training facility symbolizes our focus on youth development, our sustainable strategy and ambition for highest quality. 

GT: What are the unique features of FC Bayern's youth system?

Kasper: Almost every club has its own system. German football has it, as well we as Bayern Munich have our individual training philosophy, identity and how we want to play football.

Whatever we do needs to fit to the club and needs to be authentic. So as well our youth system we are coaching here. We don't open any franchise football schools or camps which offer artificial football products. Coaching is done only by our own coaches from Munich.

GT: What is FC Bayern's plan for the Chinese youth system? What is the goal?

Kasper: Here we're working on different levels. Overall we want to support the Chinese government developing ­football and optimizing their football infrastructure, ­coaching systems and kids' training. We believe in the ­Chinese plan and football future and want to support producing talent for the league, but at the end for sure for the Chinese national team. If there will come up ­promising talents, we would like to bring them with our system onto a level which is relevant for these teams and the success of Chinese football.

GT: Could you introduce FC Bayern's football schools in Shenzhen, Qingdao and Taiyuan?

Kasper: All our FC Bayern Football Schools have individual concepts, based on the regional needs of the provinces and cities. But what they have in common is always the link to our FC Bayern training philosophy and know-how, outstanding training facilities and that we are partnering with the local governments.

In Qingdao, we are ­currently operating more on a regular camp base. It is our first FC Bayern Football School and so far state of the art.

With our local partners in Shenzhen and Taiyuan, we built up football schools with a dual education system offering normal and necessary education. So if children will not have the possibility or capability for a career as a football player, they should still have an education which allows them to get good jobs or go to universities to work on their future. 

GT: Will there be more schools?

Kasper: We hope so. We started our China office in summer 2016 and now have three FC Bayern Football Schools partners. We don't have any pressure to open more football schools, but if we find the right partner, willing to invest into a quality and real football concept, we have enough capacity and are willing to work on that. We are not willing to sell any franchise or football concepts focusing only on commercial targets.

GT: Do you have any other specific cooperation in football here in China?

Kasper: Yes, we are cooperating with the Ministry of Education, implementing together with them regional football camps as well offering together with them a nationwide tournament structure with our FC Bayern Youth Cup China. This FC Bayern Youth Cup is played globally in 10 different countries. Here in China we select the best players in various regional tournaments, then on a national level and at the end send the best players to the FC Bayern Youth Cup Final in Munich, playing in our Allianz Arena against nine different nations. 

GT: According to your observation, what is the gap between youth training in China and Germany?

Kasper: Just to mention two. For example in Germany it doesn't matter where you grow up, even in a small village with a population of 1,000 people you will always find an organized football club and many football pitches around the corner. In cities nearby you have professional teams, youth academies and historically we have many successful German teams on an international scale for decades. So in Germany you grow up within a long time and strongly developed football culture.

Another essential difference is that in Germany, football youth training and development is combined with existing educational programs and as well strongly accepted from the society. So growing up as a young football player doesn't mean worse education. 

GT: Suppose we have a young Chinese talent. Once he enters FC Bayern's system, how will Bayern help him grow up into the next Thomas Müller or Bastian Schweinsteiger?

Kasper: We are sure that this one or more big talents will come, the only question is when. We believe in the Chinese football future. This is why we focus and invest strongly in this market. As we built up the football infrastructure for our partners, we at the same time built up ours. Which means if there will be a potential talent in one of our FC Bayern Football Schools or Camps, we will see this and start an individual development process for him or her.

Whether this is in our existing infrastructure in China or in Germany depends on the level of the player. But here we speak about a development plan of a player, which means this can start here in China and because our systems here are directly connected with Munich, they can easily go on in our FC Bayern Campus and infrastructure in Munich.

GT: The German team somehow disappointed a lot of fans this year. Do you think that will influence the youth training work as well?

Kasper: I guess you speak about the World Cup, right? What happened there was for sure from nobody expected and is shadowing German football currently. But neither our nor the FC Bayern youth training system is weak or unsuccessful. Last year our national team won the FIFA Confederations Cup. As well our German U-21 national team won the European Championship in 2017. So there are a lot of strong German talents coming up which shows the quality of our youth system.

The result in the World Cup can maybe have a negative impact from an image perspective. But for the people who understand football and are looking at the quality of football and the systems, they know that there is no lack of quality. There is a very good base and success will come back during the next tournaments.


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