Public training of the German national team: Hansi’s final appearance

Christina/ September 11, 2023/ The daily grind, Culture

Game over for head coach Hansi Flick. When we arrived at the AOK Stadium in Wolfsburg on Sunday morning for the “Public Regeneration Session,” as it was officially titled, we had no idea that this would be Hansi Flick’s last appearance as the coach of the German national team. We only learned about it in the afternoon from the radio. Did he already know it when he stepped onto the field on that hot September Sunday? Nevertheless, he graciously signed autographs and handed out soccer balls to the football-loving kids and youngsters. A final bath in the crowd – he deserved it. After the debacle the previous evening against Japan, his throne was undoubtedly shaky. Now it has fallen. Our day’s regeneration session takes us from Allerpark to Oebisfelde, passing through the Velper Schweiz on the way back.

Autograph hunters in the front row
There is already a lot of activity on the Allerpark grounds on this hot morning. On one side, fans are heading towards the AOK Stadium, while on the other side, there’s a flea market and the Wolfsburg Aquatic Center. A “Public Regeneration Session” with the German national team is on the schedule. Despite the disastrous 1:4 loss to the Japanese national team the evening before, the stadium of the VfL women’s team is slowly filling up. Especially the young fans want to get close to their idols on this day. Many of them are wearing DFB jerseys with several autographs already on them. Today is the best opportunity to complete their autograph collection. Cardboards with questions like, “Baumann, can I have your gloves?” are held up by young football enthusiasts.

When the first players come out of the tunnels shortly after 11 o’clock, the rush begins. The stadium announcer announces that the players will be available for autographs and photos first, and then the training will begin. Rudi Völler then steps onto the field and takes the microphone with a remorseful tone, admitting the dire situation of the German national team – not only due to the disastrous game against Japan. And of course, he promises improvement next. Only after that, Hansi Flick and his players step onto the field.

Hansi’s final appearance
For the fans on site, none of this matters at the moment: it’s all about autographs, grabbing free soccer balls, and, of course – you already guessed it – taking selfies with their idols. Thomas Müller, Julian Brandt, and Benjamin Heinrichs are the most dedicated autograph signers. After their turn, Hansi Flick enters the arena, signs his “Friedrich Wilhelm,” and distributes soccer balls. None of the protagonists seem truly relaxed on this day. Perhaps it’s not appropriate.

Finally, a small soccer ballet on the field begins – the team warms up. The actual training starts with passing balls and aiming at goals, similar to water polo. The heat has become almost unbearable by now, and the spectators’ attention is focused more on the drink station than on the happenings on the field.

We slowly move on. We want to take a bike ride. We’ve chosen the route: Border DDR – BRD – Velpker Schweiz Loop from Wolfsburg Hauptbahnhof. From the stadium, we first pass by the aquatic center, and then we’re already at the Allersee. We enjoy the cool breeze. It’s wonderful after the stuffy air in the stadium.

From Grafhorst to Sumpfburg Oebisfelde
We follow the Aller cycle path for a while, which initially takes us along the Aller River and then through avenues to Grafhorst. It’s a very pleasant route and just right for this hot day. From Grafhorst, we head straight to Oebisfelde. We look for a “refreshment station” and find it at the Sumpfburg. The restored Burg Café Oebisfelde has an inviting terrace. As I enter, I hear an older gentleman asking Holger if he wants to get milk. Hm? I don’t quite understand why he’s asking that. It’s only later, when I see the milk churns outside the entrance to the large courtyard, that I realize that this is where the small farmers used to bring their milk cans to be collected and processed at the dairy.

We settle down in the shade and enjoy a refreshment. Once our spirits are revived, we take a look at the courtyard of the castle. The local museum is also located here.

Velpker Schweiz
Through the castle park, we return to the bike path. Our next destination is the Velpker Schweiz. We’re back in the cool shade, passing by the Velpker Boulder Garden. Suddenly, I realize that my bike handlebar is wobbly. Oops, there’s a loose screw. We carefully make our way to the nearest gas station. There, a friendly young man helps me with his toolbox, luckily having a 6mm Allen wrench. That turned out well.

Via Neuhaus, passing by the water castle, the bike path leads us back to Allerpark. A wonderful bike ride with plenty of greenery and some sights. On the way back to Braunschweig, we listen to the radio. The final minutes of the Basketball World Cup final are on. Germany is playing against Serbia and wins! In the news, we finally hear about Hansi’s dismissal. Game over for the national team’s coach.

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