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This has never happened in Stemwede for more than four decades – a football spring without the international U-19 tournament in Wehdem. “This is one premiere that we wished to avoid”says Wolfgang Rosengarten from tournament management. “However, the tournament date for next year is more than unfavorable for us and until today we can’t tell which and how many teams would have been able to play in the end.”
Already in the last couple of years the tournament management had to react to the tighter schedule of the professional teams and the unfavorable framework time scheduling of the DFB. In 2017 after 39 years the tournament had to be moved from the traditional Whitsun date to Ascension Day one week earlier. “The clubs end their seasons beginning of May. However, Ascension Day is end of May and Whitsun beginning of June. No coach can keep their teams together for this long to play in Stemwede. ”The Bundesliga clubs therefore have already refused for 2019. Even chummy clubs like the tournament dinosaur SV Werder Bremen have signalized that it will be difficult to play in Stemwede under these circumstances. “We have received the same signals from coaches and representatives from England.” says Rainer Kröger from tournament management.
The difficulties of the participant’s acquisition have foreshadowed in the last years already. But the tournament has profited from their strong network consisting of coaches, academy managers and scouts which still lead to a strong field of participants. “It is our standard to present a great field of participants every year.” says Wolfgang Rosengarten. “In addition to the Bundesliga clubs and clubs from top leagues in Europe, teams from overseas and an exotic football club now and then belong to this field of participants. At the same time, we need to watch our costs which constantly increase when we acquire more international teams as we need to take care of flights and transfers. In the end we have analyzed various scenarios for 2019 but we didn’t find one scenario without stomach pain.”
In addition to sportive difficulties and uncertainties the tournament management faces a structural change as well. On the one hand key positions in the tournament management need to be replaced. On the other hand the basic tournament structure may needs modification and adaption. “Such a process takes time and needs a lot of energy and we want to include our department leaders. We strongly hope that our break helps us here. What is certain is that the U-19 tournament in Stemwede shall proceed. “Maybe we will not play on Whitsun or Ascension Day in 2020” says Wolfgang Rosengarten. “Perfect for us would be a tournament date beginning of May right at the end of the championships.”