by: Theresa Herrmann
Over the past three semesters here in Erfurt I have spent one evening per week on a soccer pitch. It all began in October 2012 when my fellow student Rene from Brazil organized a Brandt School team, “WBS United,” to compete in the Uni-Liga Erfurt, a local amateur small-pitch soccer league sponsored by the university sports program. The first time he handed me a form and asked me to write down the team line-up, I had no idea yet that I would eventually come to be called, jokingly, the “manager” of WBS United. I had no idea that I would regularly support the team from the sidelines (in sunshine and in snowfall), that I would write match reports, accompany our injured captain to the hospital, organize trainings and the imprinting of our jerseys (sponsored by the WBS and Spirit of Football e.V.) – and eventually even train with the boys. I had no idea how much fun it would be!
WBS United originally consisted of WBS students from the class of 2012-14 reinforced by some exchange students and local students. The team has played two Uni-Liga seasons and brought some internationality to Uni-Liga Erfurt. In addition, the class of 2011-13 had its own team, called WBS Erfurt and later Partisan Erfurt. The Brandt School derby, by the way, was once won by United and once by Partisan.
WBS United has in fact been one of the best team experiences I have had. The team consisted of 12 players from 9 countries in the winter season 2012-13 and of 14 players from 9 countries in the summer season 2013. This meant that different soccer styles needed to be reconciled, including different ideas about passing game and willingness to run – from South American elegance over African light-footedness to German sturdiness and physical exertion. Commands and encouragements were shouted across the pitch in a mix of English, Portuguese, Spanish, and German – sometimes it was chaotic, but it worked. WBS United quickly became a real team – on the pitch and off the pitch, when we went for drinks after the matches or to the Uni-Liga parties.
And, of course, our Brandt School community spirit would not be what it is if it did not produce some of the Uni-Liga’s most dedicated fans. Even during the snowy winter season, they made their way to the pitch to cheer for the team, equipped with thermos flasks of mulled wine. And during the summer season the atmosphere around the pitch was amazing. Thanks for all the support!
This is not to say that that the two seasons passed without frustrations. After a good start into WBS United’s first season, the harsh conditions of playing outdoors during the German winter took their toll, even though the team tried to take the challenge with humor, comparing “snow-soccer” to beach-soccer. I will not forget the hard-fought 5:4 victory against “Hangover 96,” possibly the most exciting match WBS United has played. With four matches won, zero tied, and seven matches lost, WBS United ended up 10th out of 12 teams.
Our second season turned out to be largely luckless. However, while we did suffer some demotivatingly high defeats, the fun was never lost and in most of the matches we were actually defeated only narrowly. With one match won, two tied, and eleven matches lost, WBS United ended up 14th out of 15 teams, and of course we found something to celebrate as well: namely that we did not end up last.
Unfortunately, there is no Uni-Liga season in the current winter semester 2013/14. Nevertheless, WBS United is still going strong. Reinforced by some of the new first-year students, we train and play once a week, this winter indoors. And WBS United had an opportunity to play competitively this month, at the indoors New Year’s Tournament organized by the Uni-Liga team. It was great to see the guys play in their jerseys again and to experience some tournament spirit. WBS United lined up with 8 players from 3 countries and proved to be in excellent form, even shortly after Christmas. In our group we won one match and tied twice, and thus survived the preliminary round undefeated. We tied the match for fifth place, but eventually lost the penalty shoot-out, and thus finished 6th out of 12 teams. Congratulations, team!
Now we are hoping that there is going to be a Uni-Liga summer season 2014 – WBS United is ready for it. “My boys” from WBS United and me – this has indeed been one of the best team experiences I have had, and I would not have missed it for anything.