Karl-Heinz Riedle during an interview with the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday (10/10). (JG Photo/Amal Ganesha)

Young Footballers Should Play for Fun, Says World Cup Champion Riedle


OCTOBER 11, 2017

Jakarta. Germany's World Cup champion of the 1990s, Karl-Heinz Riedle, says young footballers should be playing for fun in order for a national team to be successful.

"It started when Jurgen Klinsmann took over the [German] national team in 2004 ... he changed the type of play at the time," Riedle said in an exclusive interview with the Jakarta Globe in Jakarta on Tuesday (10/10).

"Germans had been famous for power and were very physical, but now we're more of tactical and technical guys," he added.

Germany has recently had stellar performances at the international level with the latest triumph at the 2017 Confederations Cup, where with a relatively young team they beat Chile 1-0 in the final game. Three years earlier, they convincingly won the World Cup in Brazil, with their new flexible and attractive style of play.

"Even in our youth academies they start to play this way," Riedle said, referring to the style that has become a standard at most football clubs.

"In Germany we really focus on youth. Today, young players are given more chances to experience first team football."

According to The Guardian, Germany started reforming its football management in 1998. The initial investment of $134 million in youth development started to bear fruits 16 years later, with the 2014 World Cup victory.

Indonesians, just like Germans, find football the most popular sport, however, unlike in Germany, in Indonesia it had for long been utilized as a tool to gain political power, with no development into the discipline itself.

Before President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's ascension to power in 2014, the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) was always linked to the Golkar Party. In 20o7, a Golkar member and the then PSSI chairman, Nurdin Halid, was sentenced to two years in prison for embezzlement of state funds. Surprisingly, he remained active at the PSSI until 2011.

Recently, current PSSI chairman Edy Rahmayadi, an army general, announced in August he will race in North Sumatra's gubernatorial election.

Political involvement in the association's activities is seen by many as a destructive influence on the quality of football in Indonesia, but there is also a problem with the younger players' transition to the senior level, the management of which is not yet satisfactory.

Let Kids Play

"You should try to build your own young players, give them chance to play in the league and then bring foreign coaches ... you now have one from Spain. I can't imagine that in a country of 250 million you're not able to find talents," Riedle said.

"Give them room, as they are still very young, they should explore many things. I was trying other sports, other than football, like skiing and tennis."

He said he does not agree with harsh elite-level training regimes for footballers aged 12 and below — which is the reality for the majority of young Indonesian players.

"I played for fun in my younger years," he said.

Riedle is part of a Bundesliga delegation currently in Jakarta to engage with Indonesian fans through a series of events.