Visit “Traumschmiede” in RB Leipzig

Leipzig. Wednesday, just before 4pm There is a lot going on in the lobby of the RB Leipzig Football Academy. The two women at reception accept the parcel. Beside him, two employees are talking and laughing. A few young players come and go. No sign of frantic activity. Instead, there is a relaxed atmosphere.

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The mood is also good in Sabine Schiefer and Lenny Hennig. The Academy’s Teaching Director and the U17 players want to show me the boarding school today. To set the mood, Sabine Schaeffer explains that the “boys’ living area” is for gamers only—as a very private retreat. To get away from the stress of daily football and school. Not even coaches can get here, and of course journalists can’t. I am thrilled when Sabine Schiefer opens the tinted glass door with the large RB logo into the boarding school area which has 50 rooms in total. Each player has one room, and two residents of a single room share a bathroom with shower. I began to realize the privilege I was given today by looking into this sacred world.

Not just ‘floral clouds’

16-year-old Lenny has been at RB Boarding School since the summer of 2021 and feels very comfortable here. “But I’ve been playing for RB since the U8s,” the blonde-haired young man reveals to me as we walk down the corridor toward the players’ rooms. On the right are the rooms, on the floor to ceiling windows on the left open the way to the huge balcony with various relaxation options and plenty of plants. The incoming sunlight makes the corridors bright and spacious. I can also feel at home here.

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Football talent Lenny Hennig (16) and Educational Director Sabine Schiefer (43) in front of RB Leipzig boarding school.

On the walls are large portraits of well-known and former Red Bull Cosmos athletes – as well as former RB striker Timo Werner, including former ski racer Lindsey Vonn. As an incentive for boarding school residents. After a few meters we stopped in front of the room door. An RB shirt number 14 and the name “Hennig” hangs in a picture frame right by the door. “This is my room,” the center back said before opening the door.

As with all residents of the boarding school, there was a long process before admission to the boarding school. Vision. Aptitude test. Several conversations with parents as well. “Of course, the boys are closely supported by us during this enrollment process. There are many conversations where we can honestly say what we expect from men. It doesn’t do you any good to just paint pink clouds,” says Sabine Schaeffer. needs young footballers on a daily basis.My father Lenny had different reactions to his desire to attend a boarding school.“My mother was sad when I wanted to go to boarding school. I love her dad. He was with Luke at the time, but he didn’t dare go to boarding school at the time.” “Because I’m from near Wurzen, I have the privilege of being able to drive home every weekend – at least when there’s no match on holiday. weekend.”

Clear priorities: football and school

The room is very small – about 20 square metres – and the furnishings are functional. On the left behind the door is a large white wardrobe, and on the left is the bathroom. There is a bed next to the bathroom door, opposite there is a large white work surface that basically serves as a desk. Under two boxes of water. A large flat screen TV is mounted on the dark wall above the worktop. The other walls are white. The priorities here are clear: football and school. The fact that he manages this balance so well every day was rewarded in May with the 2022 Porsche Turbo Prize as part of Porsche’s “Turbo for Talents” youth promotion. “This award is so much appreciated and makes me proud,” Lenny says with a smile. He goes to the secondary sports school in Marschnerstrasse and is a good student. Fortunately, school subjects are easy for him. That’s why 10th graders don’t have to learn much.

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His day consists of school, football, sleeping and eating. By the way, the 16-year-old is currently completing driving school so that next year he can drive a car with an adult. Of course, the Playstation should not be missing in the room. After all, it is also a constant companion for professionals. In his spare time, which is limited besides school, homework and training, Lenny loves to gamble on the big screen TV. FIFA is preferred. Watching football together is as popular a leisure activity as regular table tennis.

Gulácsi, Nkunku & Co. in mind

Lenny aims to become a professional soccer player every day – in the truest sense of the word. Because when he looks out of his floor-to-ceiling windows, he owns it. This opinion is certainly envied by hundreds of thousands of boys and girls. In the yards of the training center. Where Nkunku, Forsberg and Co. became. Fit by coach Domenico Tedesco and his team. For the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and UEFA Champions League. Lenny is currently preparing for his first official season at the Under-17 team in the German Bundesliga. He played six games here last season. These missions sparked an appetite for more and drove his “very personal plan to become a professional”.

By the end of his time at boarding school, which ends with his graduation from school, he wants to “taste the big” and then gradually establish himself in the team and emulate his favorite player Virgil van Dijk from Liverpool FC. That’s what talent does every day. On and off the field. Even when he’s free, Lenny goes out with his friends on a court in Cuttwig with the ball at his feet, to work on his weaker left foot or movement, among other things.

No school, no training

The dream of professional football unites all residents of boarding schools. But the academy’s focus goes far beyond goals and duels won. Sabine Schaeffer sets clear priorities. “School is Plan A for us. The rule is: No school, no training, which is what was discussed with the coaches.” Universities helped.

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And of course there are other rules of life in boarding school. It can be found on the wall at the exit of the living area on a large canvas. The seven “desirable behaviors,” as Sabine Schaeffer calls them, and the seven “no-gos” behaviors. These include “no violence”, “no theft” or “no betting”. “Of course we know we work with young people. They want to go out too. Boys should have freedom and be allowed to use it. But it should always remain within limits.”

Educational Director Sabine Schaeffer (43) in the boarding school management office.  Many former residents still have close contact with the boarding school and send chocolates as a form of thanks.

Educational Director Sabine Schaeffer (43) in the boarding school management office. Many former residents still have close contact with the boarding school and send chocolates as a form of thanks.

Sabine Schaeffer knows from her own experience what it means to live in a boarding school. From 1993 to 1997, the former competitive athlete lived in Schulpforte in Saxony-Anhalt. She came to RB Leipzig in 2013 with her husband Christoph – as head of the boarding school, director of the education department. The couple lives with their two daughters in the so-called supervisor’s apartment at the boarding school.

The living area for the rising talent also includes a washing machine and dryer room with five washers and dryers. While the training and matching clothes are washed by the club, the boys have to wash their clothes themselves. Lenny has no problem with that. Put things in, add detergent, turn on. Been completed. Next comes the practice room with the blackboard, blackboard, and flipchart. Meetings are held here, among other things. Or private lessons, which Lenny doesn’t need, says Sabine Schaeffer. If necessary, the training room can also be divided into three small rooms with three folding walls.

View of the canteen

Of course, if you learn well and train well, you also have to eat well. It’s in the canteen. Of course, the focus here is on healthy food. Lots of fruits and vegetables. macaroni. Chicken meat. Less fat. Lenny had to get used to that, too. In the meantime, he learned to appreciate it, though: “There are some dishes I still don’t know. But they still taste good in the end,” he says with a laugh, before eating an apple from the piece of fruit and vegetable in the middle of the room. The relationship with the kitchen crew is friendly. The staff knows what boys like and don’t like. Lenny and other boarding school residents find relaxation at Players Lounge, the next stop on their boarding school tour. Here is one of a total of four foosball tables throughout the boarding school. TV with Playstation also helps turn off here. At the end of the tour, we made a detour to the principal’s office. At first glance, the square room looks unsurprising. A desk can be seen under the files, laptop and phone. Just a typical office. In between, you can see some packets of chocolate that some of the guys left as a thank you.

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“I miss you”

Then my eyes fall on a green shirt hanging framed on the wall. Under the name “Demirovic” is a personal dedication. It ends with the sentence “I miss you. Your ermidian.” A declaration of love for RBL boarding school. The sender is Armidin Demirovich. The striker spent three years in the academy before moving to Spain in the summer of 2017. Recently, he played for FC Freiburg for two years before moving to FC Augsburg in the summer. But contact with Cuttweg was never broken. “I have good contact with many alumni. Welcome to visit us again. When the boys say goodbye to us, it often gets emotional. I have to shed a tear now and then. But I think that’s perfectly normal. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to do that at all. After all, we all live together in a small space,” says Sabine Schaeffer. A little later, it became clear that saying goodbye is also difficult for the adorable little ones. Then comes a teenager who has already finished moving, but still finds a reason to say goodbye to Sabine Schaeffer again. For the third time, says the 43-year-old with a smile.

Time to say goodbye after more than two hours, this also applies to me. It was an honor for me to take a look at the inner school sacred precinct. I will definitely continue to follow Lenny’s path for years to come. Will his dream of becoming a professional football player come true?

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