There’s no doubt that Germany is the best producer of well-trained young footballing talent in the world right now. But for foreign youngsters, male and female, who want to test their footballing skills and see if they have the dedication and persistence to succeed, getting noticed and earning a chance to be seen in Germany can be a daunting task. But through Justin Rose’s JJR Consulting, young, foreign talents can experience German training up close and personal, learn what it means to be a professional player, and take the first steps to earning a professional contract, while also learning to communicate in German and feel comfortable in a foreign culture.
JJR Consulting has for years been offering such young talents the opportunity to experience German training. Rose, a native of Colorado who lives in Frankfurt, has been instrumental in building bridges between Germany and other nations not only to bring outstanding training to foreign youngsters but also to build the Bundesliga’s profile outside of Germany, including putting together last year’s Colorado Cup featuring 1.FSV Mainz training in Colorado Springs for a week last July and playing friendlies against American and Mexican clubs.
The large, mandated investments by all 36 professional clubs in Germany (the 18 teams in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2)as well as the many lower-division clubs in Germany in academy training for youth has put Germany where France was a few decades back and Spain more recently as the country that is developing the most well-trained talent, ready to perform well, at the top levels of the game not only in Germany but throughout Europe. It is no coincidence that so many teenagers, including Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic, are starring in regular league play and international competitions for club and country. The training received, along with the player’s individual talents and dedication, makes this possible.
Not all this talent is German-born by any means. We Americans see USMNT players such view our countrymen such as Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood and others (John Brooks, Fabian Johnson, Timothy Chandler and more) having a real impact in the Bundesliga, while others such as Julian Green (VfB Stuttgart), Russell Canouse (VfL Bochum), Shawn Barry (FSV Frankfurt), Mario Rodriguez and Joe Gyau (SG Sonnenhof Großaspach) played regularly in Bundesliga 2 and 3.Liga.
Younger American prospects are also gaining traction in the German game, as Haji Wright and Weston McKennie earned time with Schalke’s first squad during winter training earlier this year and will compete for a spot with Schalke’s senior squad this summer while Texan McKinze Gaines began making a name for himself with Wolfsburg’s U19s and recently was signed by SV Darmstadt 98. Gaines is training with the Lillies senior squad for their Bundesliga 2 season, and combined with American international Terrrence Boyd for four goals in a preseason match against an amateur side a few days ago. Other Americans are playing in Germany in lower division football, both veterans earning a living with smaller clubs and young talents with the reserve and youth squads at bigger clubs.
Germany is the place to go for many foreign-born players and Americans are doing well at all levels in the German football pyramid. But if you are a parent, relative, friend of a talented youngster, or even that youngster yourself, how do you make yourself known and/or test yourself against the top players in the world and see if you have the talent and dedication to follow a professional career?
JJR Consulting, with its German Soccer Experience, can provide the path. With several different packages available, youngsters from ages 7-18, accompanied by a parent, now have the opportunity to train in Germany for a week, visiting professional club practices, club academies and schools, while being involved in at least four training sessions with a players’ skills analyzed on video, visiting gyms to learn what strength and aerobic training needs to be done while also experiencing first hand the atmosphere of a Bundesliga match.
Players 15 years or older with the requisite talent and maturity also have the opportunity to return to Germany for a year of training. Involved with the German Soccer Experience is Frank Gerster, 40, who came up in the Bayern Munich system and was a member of Bayern’s league and Pokal championship side in 1996-1997. Gerster had a 15 year career playing in Germany’s lower divisions as well as being an assistant coach at Borussia Dortmund under Jurgen Klopp.
Along with Rose, who played college ball at Clemson University and has been involved with the DFL for years in building bridges between Germany and other countries through the beautiful game, a youngster and his parents will get a real chance to see what it takes to be a professional player in the home of the World Cup champions and also see if they are on the right path to achieving that goal, and what needs to be done. And with the connections with clubs and academies that Rose and Gerster have throughout not only Germany but in Europe and the United States, a youngster has a real chance to get noticed and find their path to being the best player that they can be.
In Part 2 on the German Soccer Experience, I speak with Victor and Thalya, two Americans who benefitted from Justin’s help and begin training for their upcoming seasons with German clubs in the next few days.