Demand for alternatives: Watzke criticizes planned reforms in children’s football

Status: 07.09.2023 12:44 p.m

Borussia Dortmund’s managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke has described DFB plans to reduce the pressure to perform in children’s football as “incomprehensible and incomprehensible to me”. He announced a reform of the reform.

When asked whether a reform of the reform was needed, Watzke said at an entrepreneurs’ day in Essen: “Yes. And we’ve just decided.” The new DFB sports director Hannes Wolf should “try to show us alternative courses of action over the next year or two,” said Watzke, who is also the first vice president of the DFB.

Background: The German Football Association (DFB) wants to implement new forms of play in the youth field nationwide from 2024 in order to minimize the pressure to perform and to focus more on the sporting development of children. The most important goal of the reform in the U6 to U11 age groups is “to promote long-term fun in the game with a child-friendly type of football,” according to the DFB. So there should be so-called game festivals in the future.

Sports director Wolf supporters of the reform

Austria’s national coach Ralf Rangnick, Cologne’s coach Steffen Baumgart and ex-national player Dietmar Hamann had already criticized the reform plans. Watzke’s statements suggest that the reform is also being discussed critically within the DFB: Hannes Wolf himself had shown himself to be a strong supporter of the reforms when he took office.

According to Watzke, defeats are important

Watzke criticized Wednesday in Essen: “If you never have the feeling of losing as a six, eight or nine-year-old, then you will never find the great strength to win.”

There should still be victory and defeat in children’s football. Markus Hirte, head of talent promotion at the DFB, refers to the Champions League principle at the so-called game festivals: the winning team rotates one field forward, the losing team one field back. “That provokes even more competition and results,” Hirte told Sport inside. “It’s very intense.”

More wins and losses, but less outside pressure

Intrinsic motivation is important, i.e. internal motivation, says Joti Chatzialexiou, the sporting director of the DFB national teams: “We also want to have footballers who are intrinsically motivated to win and not because there is a table gives.”

U15 national coach Christian Wück also emphasizes the natural ambition. “For the kids, it’s always about the result, they always want to win, they always want to play well.” On the other hand, what should be reduced is the pressure from outside. “The important thing is that the coaches, parents and relatives are not about the result.”

Lots of frustration at the moment

Background: After several years of pilot projects, the DFB found that traditional game operations have weaknesses. Rigid team sizes meant that some children were given little or no working time. That leads to frustration. Many children turn their backs on sports at an early age.


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