17 girls are allowed to train a bit with the German national team. The FIFA campaign has been announced as an event for local people - in the end, however, the DFB footballers will be playing with the youngsters from the Paris Saint-Germain academy.
Oliver Bierhoff put on his football boots again, but even the goals of the 1996 European champions could not prevent the stale aftertaste. What was grandly announced by the world association FIFA as a community experience for the local population turned out to be a smokescreen. Mind you, the German Football Association (DFB) was not to blame for this.
Some of the national team completed a 20-minute session with 17 girls at the World Cup training base in Al-Shamal. The association is committed to promoting women's football, so it seemed a good fit. However, the DFB could only choose from several campaigns specified by FIFA, and a game against migrants like the English or Dutch would have been possible. However, the association had no influence on the selection of the eight to 17-year-old kids.
And so girls from Lebanon, the USA, France, Tunisia, Egypt, Sweden, India - and allegedly even from Qatar - practiced under floodlights in the "red castle". The campaign was part of the "Community Events" organized by the world governing body FIFA at the World Cup, with which all 32 teams in the host country promote social projects. The 17 girls aged 9 to 16 who play football at the Paris Saint-Germain academy in Doha were selected by the world governing body.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience that girls will remember for the rest of their lives," said their coach, Wallace. That was obviously true, the kids all enthusiastically participated in passing exercises and small field games with Bierhoff, team manager Benedikt Höwedes and six national players. When Thomas Müller waved, they giggled in embarrassment. Bierhoff gave a high five, and Serge Gnabry also got a shot in the leg.
Kai Havertz, Karim Adeyemi and Nico Schlotterbeck from the DFB squad also took part in the so-called "Freestyle Football Challenge". "It's always nice when you can share the joy of football with others," said Gnabry. It was a successful evening for all participants. A strange feeling remained for the observer.
(This article was first published on Sunday, November 20, 2022.)