In youth football, things are going from strength to strength. No sooner is one season over than preparations are underway for the next. The U16s of VfL Bochum 1848 were runners-up in the B-Junior Westfalenliga. At the end of the season, Simon Schuchert's boys put together a brilliant run of five wins in a row, including a 6-0 victory over FC Schalke 04. "Through concentrated performances, we started a race to catch up. In the end, we were rewarded for this with second place," summed up the coach.
March 20, 2022, Matchday 18. After a defeat against FC Iserlohn 46/49, VfL's U16s could not get beyond a 2-2 draw against SC Preußen Münster. In the table, this meant fourth place at the time. The gap to second in the table, Sportfreunde Siegen, was five points. "We were far behind, didn't always perform as we had planned," Schuchert knows.
But the 6-0 home win in the Revierderby against Schalke on May 01 at the latest marked the start of the Blue and Whites' race to catch up. "That was the turning point. In that game, the guys showed how good they can be. It could be determined by three factors: Intensity, volume and aggressiveness. That was a very special day, when the boys played themselves into a frenzy," the coach makes clear the importance of this game.
The fact that in the end even the championship in the B-Junioren Westfalenliga was not within the realm of possibility was mainly due to the consistency of the Knappenschmiede. "They deserved to be champions," acknowledges Schuchert. But: in the two direct league duels against Schalke, the Bochum team delivered tremendously, picking up four points, with a goal difference of 7-1.
For the U16 coach, however, the final placement in the championship is not decisive anyway: "As a youth coach, it's not about proclaiming the goal of becoming champion or runner-up. The most important thing is that as many boys as possible make the jump to the next age group. We have succeeded in doing that." Four players have left the club, while five have joined.
The Covid-19 pandemic hit youth football hard and unexpectedly about two and a half years ago. The 2020/21 season virtually fell through as a result. But the past season also continued to turn out to be far from normal. "It was a special season, also from a coaching perspective. The first half of the year in particular was very intense for the boys, marked by the Corona pandemic and injuries. The consequences were noticeable to them - not athletically, but in terms of communication, confidence and enjoyment of the game. That's completely understandable; it was a tough break for the guys. We have tried to absorb this as best we can, and we have succeeded so far. Nevertheless, I'm far from being able to talk about a normal season," says the coach, giving an insight into his feelings.
In summing up the season, Schuchert naturally does not miss the opportunity to congratulate Sportfreunde Siegen. The Talentwerk's cooperation club finished in third place in the B-Junior Westfalenliga, thus rewarding itself with promotion to the U17 Bundesliga! As runners-up, VfL's U16s were not eligible for promotion, as the blue-and-white U17s already belong to the junior top flight. "Congratulations to Sportfreunde Siegen. They have deservedly been promoted, have made the most of their opportunities. For us as Talentwerk, it's super when cooperation clubs like Siegen can operate at the highest possible training level. Siegen is doing a very good job," says Schuchert, who is delighted for the cooperation club.
As indicated at the beginning, the training now continues seamlessly. After the first training sessions, VfL's new U17 team will play its first two test matches this weekend. Bayer 04 Leverkusen and SV Sandhausen are the names of the renowned opponents at Hiltroper Straße. "The first thing now is to stay in rhythm. The new guys should internalize the routines and grow together with the others as a team. In the preparation we measure ourselves against many strong teams. We want to offer the boys this platform," explains the coach.