Among brothers, among sisters – Football, I mean Soccer, connects.
I grew up with three sisters and no brother. With my mother, it was the other way around, as the only daughter with five brothers. That’s almost half a football team, her father had always remarked, pointing out the great importance that this sport had for the family members.
The family came from Upper Silesia, first lived in the former GDR and the family members gradually fled to the West in the 50s. My mother, born in 1935, has now written down her life story and this topic came up, a little parkour ride through German (amateur) football.
An older brother ended up in Osnabrück, made his masterpiece in gastronomy during the Football World Cup and used a football place setting design at that time for his presentation during the master craftsman’s examination. Then he leased and developed the Niedersachsenhof there and became an enthusiastic supporter and – I think – also a sponsor of VfL Osnabrück. It’s good that this team can be welcomed back to the 2nd Bundesliga.
I myself will never forget my grandfather’s visit in 1970, when he watched the legendary semi-final between Germany and Italy on television with my father, very late due to the time difference to Mexico. I was just eleven years old at the time and had to listen to the game under my duvet on the radio because it seemed inappropriate to my parents to allow me to stay up. Until Schnellinger, why he of all players, scored the equalizer in the 92nd minute and forced extra time. My grandfather’s roar was so loud that I could pretend to have woken up because of it. So, I sat in my pajamas between my grandfather and my father for extra time and witnessed the drama of the 3:4 live.
Today, it is precisely this image as a memory that is much more important to me than coming to terms with the defeat at that time. Me sitting between my dad and my grandfather. There is no photo of this scene, but it is a picture in my memory – for eternity. ⏭ A Mexican friend of mine once shared with me, that he has memorized the situations and locations he has been during the Mexican football games at the World Cup. How true this is for me as well. ⏮
My own station in German football is the Sportschule Ruit near Esslingen and in close proximity to VfB Stuttgart and the Stuttgarter Kickers. There I completed my education as a football coach and received the so-called B license, which enabled me to train up just below the professional level. Back then, in 1981 or 1982, the Kickers were in the second division and at the same time as us, the coaches in training, in the training camp. We ran into each other and saw and heard the professional coach Horst Buhtz. We watched the training games and discussed among the prospective coaches who would make a great career in the Bundesliga. We all saw the impressive direct shots and spectacular goals of the then 18-year-old Jürgen Klinsmann and bet on him. We were right.
The football tradition continued with my sisters’ sons. A nephew made it to the Bayernliga at TSV 1860 Rosenheim before spending a social year as a coach at a football school in Tanzania. And another made it to a football high school as a potential offspring for the club (the 1st FC Nuremberg). He didn’t turn professional, but every now and then I see from my sister’s WhatsApp messages that he scored another decisive goal, for example against Wacker Burghausen. Weren’t they second-rate in professional football?
Football connects. That’s so. The game and its stories and the feeling of being able to celebrate great victories and the experience of coming to terms with defeats.
And what did I take away from my football days?
❇ My belief in team spirit. Together you can achieve more as an individual.
❇ Gain your first leadership experience. Especially as a football coach, you are in a leadership role.
❇ And especially important: the ability to change perspectives – as a player, as a coach and also as a referee, I have looked at and experienced the game from a wide variety of facets. This shapes and develops an understanding of the respective other role.
➡ And you? What personal memories do you associate with football in your life?