The game of games

The game of games

Tears after losing a game are understandable, especially when you narrowly lose to FC Barcelona in the final meters. For thirteen minutes we defended bravely and with a lot of commitment. But then a corner kick flew into our penalty area. A brilliant volley put us off our stride. But there was the matter of the hard-to-judge scene in the penalty area – thirty seconds before the end of the game.

The video images show it: our player cleverly gets through on the left wing, dribbles towards the goal and shoots from an acute angle. The goalkeeper deflects, our player gets the ball back, takes it in his run – there comes a long leg of the defender in the goal area out, our player jumps and comes off balance, a tenth of a second later the goalkeeper takes the ball with his hands, the scene seems cleared up.

Penalty kick or not? Even if you watch the pictures in extreme slow motion, you can't come to a clear answer. Quite possibly there was some contact. But it could also be that our player tried to avoid contact and got off balance in the jump. The referee did not see a foul and let the game go on.

The Catalan youngsters dominated the game, we defended respectably and played quite bravely in some scenes. A lot of running was required, because Barça was busy looking for gaps in our defense and quickly shifted from one side to the other. Watching the system play unfold, threaded by individual talents, was a feast for the eyes. On the ball and in motion they are impeccable. They impressed technically, fiercely and rhythmically. They showed elegant movements in all forms. With sharp, precise pinpricks they got into the depth, with hammer-hard distance shots they concluded.

After corners, it was a draw at the end of the 15 minutes of play. We were even ahead after free kicks. Only in the shots on goal and in possession of the ball showed the superiority of the Catalans. Nevertheless, we held up well. Had two good scoring opportunities themselves. It's fair to say that in this early first game of the tournament for both teams, a draw would have been possible for us.

But then this corner kick hit high out flew into our penalty area. A Barça player ran towards the second post, turned cleverly to the middle, our cover player reacted too late, the Barça player took the volley and hammered it on goal.

Our keeper still had his hands on the ball, but could only deflect it into the corner, the shot was too perfect. Bitter, because with a little more consistency and concentration the goal could have been avoided. And so we lost the big reward, even if we were lucky in an earlier tumultuous scene and Barça only hit the crossbar twice in quick succession.

By our standards, we offered a very exciting and open game, which also found the favor of a notorious Barça Youtuber. For us, regardless of the result, a great dream came true. When do you ever get lucky enough to play against FC Barcelona?

A team in a class of its own

Only Munich's 1860 managed to draw with the Catalans during the tournament, but lost in a nine-man shootout. In the final, Barcelona took apart the red and white bulls from Salzburg. Barça, it seemed, could once again increase the tempo at will. What they showed in the final was top class soccer. Salzburg had no chance. The angel wings of Salzburg fell off like withered petals at the high tempo of the game. Barça's tournament victory was highly deserved.

In general, this team, which is one of two 2008s, showed itself to be a playful and very open, likeable team without any airs and graces. At the big team debrief on the eve of the tournament, they even made several U15 players shriek with their unpretentious charm. The girls lined up to have their picture taken with them. We also took the opportunity to take a group photo, although one or the other seemed a bit irritated by the spontaneous closeness. One of our players even had to overcome himself to get into the photo, understandably if you are a Real fan.

For this extra effort in sympathetic crowd gestures, Barça was rightly rewarded by the organizers with an excellent hotel plus outdoor pool and extra large double beds. We, on the other hand, took up our quarters on the other side of the street in a small family guesthouse with a Tyrolean all-wood ambience.

Maria Rose

As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by a huge AMA logo in burgundy on the house, matching the colors of the wooden shutters. Wisely, the banner had been sent ahead by one of our trip organizers to greet us. If there was one thing our club bosses were sure to be keen on, it was this exquisite piece of cloth, which in size and style beats anything I have ever seen from the amateurs. As ambassadors of the soon to be celebrated 100th anniversary of our club, we also did our club proud in sporting terms. The initial astonishment at our club name earned us just as much footballing admiration after the first match day at the latest.

Schorsch, our landlord, directed us through the days with aplomb and marked the meal times and menus in open Tyrolean hospitality. We shared the house with two inconspicuous cyclists, ordered more or less too much (or too little) to drink, but dutifully ate all plates empty except for two or three small meatloafs. Even the desserts were not spurned, God knows. The breakfast coffee tasted fantastic. It was a kind of breakfast in and of itself.

The drinks in the evening were served by a young balloonist, who explained to me the essential difference between paragliders and balloonists: one looks for thermals, the other avoids them. Supposedly one would not get a fear of heights in the basket. If I should come to Kirchberg again, I will dare a ride with her.

A round thing. Like the rolls we ordered for the day of departure from Schorsch to prepare us for the long train ride, which he charged us for the sake of simplicity with 1 Euro per piece. And then there was that pattern of carpet on the stairs of the house that so precariously resembled that of the seat cushions of the Berlin subway. A curious coincidence. Every time I walked up or down the stairs to visit one of the three groups of four on our team in their room, I was puzzled by this odd coincidence.

From the first day our timing was right, at least as far as most of the tour group was concerned. Some stragglers were less lucky. Had to deal with a defective locomotive. They joined us only the next day – in the middle of a team meeting on the terrace of the house, which probably irritated both sides a bit. Another part of the tour group arrived late at night in Kirchberg, he had decided to take the car.

Hardly had we distributed our luggage in the house, we hurried in the direction of a bath lake, which turned out to be a unique collecting tank of alpine panorama snapshots. To all points of the compass, green mountains and steep slopes lined the plateau, adorned by picturesque mountain huts and cantilevered elevator piers.

A lemon yellow threshold slide led directly into the lake, it was about 40 meters long and immediately attracted the attention of the young and older children. On knees and anything that sped up the ride, this aquaesque summer streak was slid downhill to rush into the dark water at full thrust. Others, a little less daring, swam a quiet lap in the lake and watched the well-fed trout in the water. The refreshment was just right after the long train ride.

Riding the train

Outside, the landscape flew past us, the change from flat to hilly had been stealthy. Somewhere around Erfurt new associations modulated together in my head, I changed from prairie to castle landscape. It was not far to the first hop in Bavaria.

A train is the travel group means of transport par excellence. Everyone can get up as he pleases. Swapping places, squeezing in at other people's tables to play werewolf with them. Others secretly hide in the corner with their smartphones to listen to a radio play or play a digital game of skill. One can also simply sink into sleep for a quarter of an hour and dream crude stuff.

Only you better don't put your knees against the backrest, because then the very brash cleaning staff of the train appears to reprimand you. He's not above neutralizing little grease stains on the train's compartment windows with glass cleaner on his way from one car to the next. No out-of-place foot can get past his watchful eye. The brand new ICE must be protected from the first signs of use at all costs. I wouldn't have been surprised if this service professional had a few private plastic seat covers in stock somewhere.

Funnily enough, his wife worked as a conductor on the subsequent Europa Express from Munich to Bologna. While ordering hundreds of children's knees jammed into backrests back into reverent seat-ground positions, she disciplined any stirrings of infantile travel enthusiasm with sharp, authoritarian commands of calm against which even the strictest home supervisors might appear to be lovely governesses.

You see, not only at the edges of the playing field the most dubious characters are let loose on children eager to play. Well, to remind a slightly overexcited group of travelers in a friendly manner that one shares the compartment with other travelers should always be allowed, of course, as the mouse does not bite off a thread.

After changing trains in Munich, I finally got to climb the mountains. Behind Rosenheim I looked strained to the east to look for the Kampenwand, which I had once climbed years ago. And then I saw the rocky ridge in the distance, so small and delicate, as if it were a child's teeth.


Somewhere between Bamberg and Wörgl, the children's smartphones and tablets were collected. I would say just in time. Because if there's one thing I'm personally going to set up differently on the next trip, it's the degree of digital intoxication. I don't mind listening to music on headphones, but I don't take more than an MP3 player or an old push-button phone with me on a team trip anymore.

A tiresome theme. As an advocate of the analog one is looked at anyway constantly pityingly by those with digital full equipment, as if one were irretrievably lost. Nevertheless, in moments of transitive event vacuum, those who no longer master the conventional techniques of direct perception, of uneventful pastime and cognitive medialization often turn out to be the true stricken ones. Their media addiction becomes abundantly clear on the train. They plead for their toys, but can't see the mountains at the edge of the train window anymore. They walk on the yawning abyss of their own medial wasteland.

Rather than leap into nothingness, they cling to the web of blinking displays to fill their empty attention batteries with colorful electricity. Through the gaps in the seats of the track I could well observe such a routine running empty. Videos were clicked for minutes, which did not load at all due to the slow W-LAN in the train. Instead of learning from the circumstance and adapting, the next clip was desperately clicked on. But it did not work either. Every thought-absorbed bopping or staring out of the window unfolds more result character than such a desperate longing for the next fleeting flicker.

I'm sure we collected the devices shortly after Bamberg, through which I rolled not for the first time, hoping to find some little boarding school tower or that old discarded railroad carriage of the "non-smoker" who, in the 1973 film version of The Flying Classroom, had moved there in protest against conventional societal values.

Between the clutch and the ceiling lamp, he led a more or less inconspicuous musician's existence beyond the bourgeois until he happened to run into his old buddy and boarding school principal Dr. Johannes Bökh met, called Justus, who led him back to civilian life with the help of an attractive nurse.

What always struck me about the film, and still does when I see it, is the fact that one of the young actors did not grow very old.

In the end, of course, I have to admit that smartphones are an absolutely useful thing, for example when you want to know what the weather will be like in the next few hours.

Eighteenth place

From a sporting point of view, we offered only one disastrous performance on two match days with a total of eight games. In the second group match against Spielvereinigung Unterhaching, a kind of Hertha 03 of the great FC Bayern, we varied our system in the mistaken assumption that we could create more stability and pressure in midfield. The calculation did not work out, on the contrary. The opponent countered us precisely. We not only lost the game, but also the chance to reach the second place in our group, which is why we didn't meet the big ones on the second match day to compete with them. Pity!

But with three clear wins against Kaarst as well as a British selection team from Hong Kong and FC Winterthur, we at least kept the third place in the first round group and were also convincing on the second match day in the placement matches. A clear win against Fortuna Chemnitz in the quarterfinals and a deserved, albeit hard-fought victory over US Torcy P.V.M. In the semifinals put us right in the top 20 teams of the 48-team field overall.

Only in the match for 17th place we lost in a hard fought match to My Academy Paris unhappily with 1:2 goals. We were not able to withstand the robust pace and the fast attackers of the Parisians until the end. Two minutes before the final whistle the bitter goal fell to the final score of 1:2. Nevertheless, we were very pleased with the performance of our team and our achieved placement.

The fantastic sight of the wild emperor in the background of the sports field in Söll alone compensated for the temporary inadequacies in our not always entirely consistent play on this Whit Sunday. It was as if everyone had allowed themselves to be distracted and severely impressed by this mighty sight for a minute, only to return to the game all the stronger and throw themselves into the fray for the team's success.

Air to the top

Upward is always air, nevertheless we could leave a beautiful Berlin smell number in these sun spoiled valleys of Tirol, which mixed well with the fresh rural alpine air. Some big clubs were clearly behind us in the final table. But even that doesn't mean much, it's better to just look at yourself.

We were able to retrieve a lot, some unfortunately not quite so well. In addition the journey was then nevertheless of many new. For us unusual impressions determined. A little homesickness plagued some of us, or the fear of darkness, which is why we switched to full illumination at night. An idiosyncratic form of driving away ghosts. Room 4 had besides the best spray deos on board, which were sprayed in an olfactory emergency situation literally empty, whereupon it came to the allegedly better air, but also to acute lung adhesion. I exaggerate. Against the backdrop of mountain peaks well over 2200 meters high with the many small. Large snow remains between the rocks shifted the sporting anyway on a completely different level of perception. This colorful international monster tournament, which has been firmly rooted in the region for more than 20 years, brought us in a wonderful way to ourselves and to a cohesion, of which we do not yet really know what it will bring about in the future. Up to now (after one week), however, not a single one of the innumerable shot travel photos of the travel participants has reached me (hardly written, there came already a photo book!). Only the precious Barça video was shared in the best net culture by the owner with everyone else. Well, the game was filmed by someone else!

There is even a second movie, but in it the feat of losing sight of the two game-changing scenes has been accomplished. Twice the viewfinder swung into space in this film, at the corner kick and at the potential penalty kick. You also have to get this right first.

Just as we opened our stay with a visit to the lake swimming pool, we decided to end it with. The weather became a little milder on this Whit Monday morning, a small downpour fell, hard tremulous drops bounced on the springy surface of the water. The players didn't mind the cast, they whizzed back down the yellow streak on their knees and then boarded two pedal boats, which they used to chase each other on the lake. The crews were changed briskly, nobody got between the fronts. Fortunately it did not come to a collision. Afterwards there was a small ice cream on the hand and an hour later between two trains a large slice of pizza on the same, already it went again tightly in the direction of Berlin.

Shortly after Wörgl the smartphones were handed out. It was the moment when some felt almost at home again.

I thought back to the little mouse that I had discovered dead on the way to the stadium on the first day of the match. Possibly it had been kicked flat in the turmoil of the 166 teams marching in.

I imagined how she had jumped back and forth full of panic between the many dancing, jumping and marching legs, not knowing how to avoid the countless kicks. Perhaps a digital game of skill could be created from this, I mused.

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