Thursday July 17 2014

Germany shows there’s no shortcut to success

By Editorial

What we know already is that a fourth star has been sewn above the Germany national team jersey crest after the Die Mannschaft claimed another football World Cup title with victory over Argentina in Brazil. But what we must not miss is how patient the Germans have been in their meticulous 10-year pursuit of glory. The 1-0 extra time victory over Argentina was a culmination of sustained planning and execution; a lesson Uganda should buy into.

It all started with some thinking heads at the Deutscher Fussball-Bund (Germany FA) – following a dismal Euro 2004 – agreeing to work in tandem with Bundesliga clubs to foster talent through the academies. And with then coach Rudi Voller resigning; his successor, Jürgen Klinsmann sought improved fitness checks on German internationals at their clubs.
With clubs encouraged to pick local talent, Klinsmann, his assistant Joachim Loew (the 2014 World Cup winning coach) and the Germany FA worked with the club coaches to establish what the national team should play. They agreed that the Die Mannschaft’s game from then on will be a fast, technical, and yet patiently effective act; the type that ripped Brazil apart in 7-1 Belo Horizonte massacre and ended Argentina’s fairy tale on Sunday.

That curriculum was bought into by Bundesliga and a good number of players nurtured through the Under-21s, inculcating into them an attacking philosophy that came to characterise Klinsmann’s teams. Luckily, Klinsmann’s successor, Loew, maintained it.

It was just two years into the project when Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup. Perhaps too early for any results but the Die Mannschaft did surpass expectations, losing to Italy in the semi-finals. Many of Loew’s stars worked through the ranks, beating England 4-0 in the European Under-21 Championships in Sweden in 2009. Six of those Under-21 European champions, including Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer, Benedikt Höwedes, Mats Hummels and Jérôme Boateng lined up to receive their World Cup medals on Sunday, 24 years since the country won it as West Germany.

In between, however, there have been frustrating campaigns, including losing to Spain – who themselves share a similar story en route to dominating the world from 2008 to 2012– in the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup, and crashing to Italy in the semi-finals of Euro 2012. Throughout, the synergy between clubs, their FA and government support was as concerted as their full flight on the pitch.

Sadly, that is not the case with Uganda’s Fufa that lives on an island, a topflight league and youth structures that are hardly active, and a government struggling with the notion that sports is our the country’s best global ambassador.
This should change.