Germany’s success a lesson for Jamaica
ABOUT a month before the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, FIFA.com asked Germany captain Mr Phillip Lahm what would he be doing on July 13.
"Hopefully, playing football," he replied with a smile.
Yesterday, Mr Lahm got his wish… and more, as he proudly hoisted the World Cup trophy after a nail-biting final against Argentina in the historic Maracana Stadium.
The single goal — scored by substitute Mr Mario Goetze — that separated both teams did more than give the Germans great pleasure, it launched the team into the history book of world football, as they became the first European team to win the World Cup title in South America.
Mr Goetze’s strike also increased Germany’s goal tally for the one-month tournament to 18, the highest scored by all teams in the global contest for sport’s most recognised trophy.
Interestingly, of the Germans’ 18 goals, 15 were scored in open play. The remainder were from set pieces, with one being from the penalty spot.
To top this all off, Germany conceded only four goals over their seven matches; a statistic that no doubt influenced the decision to award goalkeeper Mr Manuel Neuer the Golden Glove.
While the Germans and their fans across the world will continue celebrating yesterday’s fourth World Cup title for many more days, people who follow the game closely will know that this victory did not come easy.
In fact, it represents a fitting reward for a development programme in which the country invested after the team’s exit in the group stage of Euro 2000.
The German Football Association, we are told, initiated a root and branch reform of its youth development programme.
Nine years later, their investment paid off as their Under-21 team captured the UEFA European Championships in Sweden with a crushing 4-0 defeat of England.
"The 2009 tournament was a real turning point. The youth academies started developing well over the last five or six years," Germany defender Mr Per Mertesacker told FIFA.com.
Of note is the fact that six of the players from that 2009 team were among the 11 who annihilated hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals on July 8. They are Messrs Neuer, Benedikt Howedes, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira, and Mesut Ozil.
While they are recognised as individually talented, the more important fact is that they are team players, and that — team unity — was no doubt the key to Germany’s success in Brazil.
Mr Mertesacker spoke to that reality in his FIFA.com interview. "We have created excellent team spirit during the tournament, and with those magnificent players growing up together it makes it easier," he was quoted as saying.
The German experience, we believe, offers a lesson for Jamaica. For, had we so structured our youth football programme to ensure that players transition smoothly to the national level, it would have given us a better chance of qualifying for World Cup finals after our historic feat in 1998.
It is our hope that the Jamaica Football Federation will be able to find the funding to implement such a programme, and those who invest in it must accept that it will take time.
In the meantime, we offer our heartiest congratulations to Germany and their coach, Mr Joachim Loew. They not only won the honour of placing a fourth star on their jerseys, they entertained the world doing so.