The overriding goal at Eintracht Frankfurt when it comes to nurturing young talent is to help youth team players become professional footballers.
Being a talented player alone is not enough. Another important factor on the path to a career in professional football is personality development. In Eintracht Frankfurt’s youth department, these two components are closely intertwined.
A player’s sporting education is not only designed for the long term, it is characterised by continuity. The development of young players takes precedence over the success of the team as a whole.
Training comprises three stages: the foundation level (U10s and U11s), the development level (U12s to U15s) and the performance level (U16s to U19s), with the U19s also forming a transitional stage between the youth and professional teams.
At foundation level, the focus is on improving a player’s ability on the ball while providing them with experience of playing in every position. Individual and team tactics are introduced at development level, at which stage the frequency and intensity of training and focus on athletic development also increases. The third and final stage, the performance level, involves players applying their acquired skills under very high pressure in complex training and match scenarios, equipping them with the necessary qualities to become professional footballers at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Players are offered individually tailored care and support during their training at Eintracht. Each player’s abilities are documented on a regular basis, while their strengths are enhanced and weaknesses addressed through targeted training. All youth academy coaches hold the necessary licences, with all coaches at development level and above owning an A Licence.
In order to guarantee all youngsters sufficient playing time, it has been agreed that players up to and including U13 level must take part in at least 50 per cent of their total number of games – including competitive and friendly matches – in a single season.
Aside from school, the sports club in general is one of the most important institutions when it comes to working with children and youngsters. It carries a great influence on the education and development of kids and young adults at the academy.
At Eintracht Frankfurt, academy coaches and managerial staff aim to relay values that are not just important in sport but in everyday life, from respectful interaction with team-mates, coaches, support staff and referees, to learning about fair play and dealing with criticism, success and failure. Because players are also expected to act as ambassadors, they must agree to the club’s code of conduct, which clearly states how Eintracht Frankfurt players should behave.
These young footballers not only act as ambassadors in the Frankfurt area or at the highest regional and national level (all youth academy teams compete in the highest possible leagues). By taking part in international friendlies and tournaments, the players get to represent the Eagles around the world, broadening their cultural horizons in the process. The U19s, for example, take part in a highly competitive tournament in Dallas as a kind of end-of-school trip before entering senior level football. The players spend ten days with host families and get to experience the American way of life. In 2008, meanwhile, the U15s flew to Manchester for the final of the Nike Cup, the unofficial U15 World Cup.
Eintracht Frankfurt set great store by the club’s ‘dual’ education system, with players’ performances at school just as important as their efforts on the pitch. To ensure that their football and academic education do not interfere with one another, Eintracht have struck partnerships with a number of different schools, enabling players to juggle their commitments without any problems .(see partnerships).
Eintracht Frankfurt’s youth department has a fine reputation. Many youngsters in both recent and distant past have gone on to play in the Bundesliga before blossoming into key first-team or international players (see Riederwald graduates). Andreas Möller, Thomas Berthold and Jermaine Jones are just a few examples. In Timothy Chandler and Aymen Barkok, Eintracht currently have two players in their first-team ranks who received their football education at Riederwald.
The Fußball AG, which officially became a separate body in 2000, relies on youngsters from its own ranks – although they are required to play at Regionalliga level (fourth division) at least in order to minimise the difference in standard as much as possible.
Located within the sports performance centre at Riederwald, the sports boarding school began operations in November 2010. It currently boasts four single and four double rooms with a desk, bathroom, bed and internet connection, while occupants also have access to a communal lounge. There is also a rented flat in the club grounds, which is available to adult U19 players as a two-person shared flat and offers them extra support on their way to independence. Since the end of September 2018, our youngsters have had yet another flat at their disposal in the Frankfurt-Seckbach area, meaning it is now possible to accommodate up to 15 players who were previously unable to play or train for Eintracht Frankfurt because they lived too far away.
As the youth academy’s head of education, Anton Schumacher is primarily responsible for the sports boarding school. His main tasks include communicating with players and parents, all youth academy employees and cooperation partners. He is assisted by boarding school supervisor Chrissoula Disch, youth academy staff member Rafael Francisco, a total of six night staff and primary school teacher Karl Rotter, who organises additional tutoring.
The aim of the sports boarding school is to provide young players with a second home and to structure their everyday lives in the best way possible around school, vocational and sporting challenges.
When a player joins an Eintracht Frankfurt youth team, they must agree to the club’s internal code of conduct.
The youth academy’s code of conduct serves, among other things, as a guide for our players. It sets priorities which we believe are indispensable for budding professional footballers.
Eintracht Frankfurt attaches great importance to the following:
- Respect towards colleagues, particularly when a player is dealing with club employees, team-mates, opponents and referees.
- Discipline in carrying out designated tasks and in structuring their daily routine.
- Conscientiousness when using resources provided by the club, including training gear and equipment, buses, club premises, etc.
- Openness in conversation and in the face of criticism.
- Maturity: We want players who are attentive and think for themselves. Criticism must be expressed constructively and internally at all times.
- Team spirit: A player can only realise their full potential as part of a functioning community. The player must therefore place the team’s success above personal glory.
- Self-confidence, which is based on the player’s behaviour described herein and their strengths as an athlete. Arrogance will not be tolerated.
- Passion: Players must put their heart and soul into everything they do and be fully committed to achieving the best possible development as a footballer and as a person.