Two seemingly babylike quizzes: On how many goals do you play football and how big is a team? Everyone knows that! One goal on each side, so two in total, and eleven players. But from the new season, that's wrong. At least it is not always true, because in Germany millions of children are playing football in a different way.
So far, children in Germany have played 7 to 7 on each goal across the field, but because 4-11 year olds are small, their football is getting smaller: the ball, the field and the teams, the smallest consist of only two players. The gates are shrinking as well, there are two on each side, four in total. Funino is called the basic form of this mini football, it has different variants, depending on the age.
- G-Youth (U6 / U7): 2 against 2 or 3 against 3 on four mini-goals
- F-Youth (U8 / U9): 3 against 3 or 5 against 5 on four mini-goals
- E-Youth (U10 / U11): 5 to 5 on four mini-goals or 7 against 7 on two field goals
The DFB, which took a couple of years to convince itself of Funino, has now decided on the new concept and announced at its trainer meeting last Tuesday, a one-year pilot phase. That means, starting from the new season, ten state associations (Baden, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Middle Rhine, Saxony, South Baden, Southwest and Württemberg) will rehearse the mini-football project, Bavaria has been doing this for a year. In some of these countries, the old mode is still being played in parallel, but in the future German children may only play minifootball.
It is a revolution in children's football that is to be completed step by step over the next few years. The goal is to train girls and boys age-appropriate so that they become better footballers when they grow up. Matthias Lochmann believes in that. The professor of sports science at the University of Erlangen is the main Funino supporter, his son also plays football.
Lochmann has been involved with Funino for years, at meetings, in talks, he even researches about it. Now he is happy and speaks of the "most comprehensive reform in German football". He even promises a "worldwide influence". The old football, Lochmann says, has taken many children the fun and eventually forced to quit. He also prevented children from exploiting their talents.
Funino makes better footballers, studies say
The previous 7 against 7 often looked like this: Each team had two, three good players who were mostly on the ball. One, two or even three others almost never got it. Instead, they counted planes in the sky or plucked daisies. Maybe because they did not have that much talent, maybe because they were smaller, weaker, or younger. In German football and elsewhere, there is the absurdly unfair practice of discriminating against children born in November or December. In addition, many a plug the way from one gate to another seemed so long, as he would go shopping in the neighboring village for dad and mom.
This is over. Anyone who knows football only from television as a sometimes lengthy 11 against 11, will rub his eyes at the whopping 3 to 3. Constantly is action. The kids romp and chase the ball. Who has him, plays him to the teammate, but must immediately offer again. Or you try to play the opponent. The two mini-goals, on which each team attacks, stand, depending on the variant, eight to fourteen meters apart on each long side. All players score goals, but whoever scores must go back immediately. Then it is defended. Everyone has to participate in the mini-football. There is no lazing around, hiding is something for the schoolyard.
No wonder that after a few minutes everyone is out of breath, also because it immediately goes on for goals without offense. Then there is a short break and another tournament opponent comes on. Studies show that children who play Funino for a while, adapt the ball more accurately and faster to their teammates, have a better overview and run more skillfully free. It's the rebirth of street football.