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uni'alumni 2013_ENG

When I was there for the first time, I thought: No way, I’m really at the university.” For Christian Streich, since the end of 2011 manager of the German top-flight soccer club SC Freiburg, studying opened up a new world. His background included secondary school, vocational training as an industrial clerk, professional soccer, higher education qualification – and finally, in his early 30s, enrollment in a teacher education program in history, German, and physical education at the University of Freiburg: “People who come straight from school can’t imagine how it is for someone with my back- ground. For me, the university was a gift.” He met interesting people, professors and students alike, and he was free to immerse himself in his favorite topics – such as works by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky or the analysis of totalitarian systems. Whatever the topic, his goal was always to find answers to the question of what makes humans tick: “Nothing interests me more than other people.” Idea of the Game, Philosophy of the Club An interest in people, a love for soccer: This combination goes a long way toward describing what distinguishes Christian Streich as a manager. The father of two children, Streich was born in 1965 in Eimeld- ingen, at the extreme southwestern tip of Germany. While still a student he began teach- ing the SC Freiburg youth team, and from 2001 on he served as director of the club’s soccer academy, known as one of the best in the country. Whether in the case of the youth teams or the professional squad, “it can never just be about getting the boys to play good soccer,” says Streich. “We want to support them in their development.” The players hail from Germany, Croatia, Spain, Belarus, Mali. He speaks with them about their interests, encourages them to spend time with each another, and offers to be there for them: “When a player wants distance, I respect that, but I prefer to know as much as possible. Maybe there’s a player who relates most closely to his grandmother, and if she isn’t doing well, he won’t play well for half a year. It’s important for me to be able to do justice to the player.” He also lets the players know what counts away from the playing field: respect, integrity, mutual trust, taking on responsibility in a club with close to 300 employees, and the principle that the collective takes precedence over the individual. Streich calls this the club’s philosophy: “We follow an idea of the game as the basis for our work, not a tactical system, 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1. That’s too small for us.” Streich himself exemplifies these principles, this work ethic – for instance when a departure is at hand, because a player is no longer will- ing to adhere to the philosophy or because the club no longer has a place for him in the squad, or when all 28 players leave a good impres- sion in training but only 11 of them can start in the next game. That’s good for the team, but it’s something the manager loses a lot of sleep over. “That’s really hard for me, because I know the boys,” says Streich. Nevertheless, even in these situations he makes every effort to speak openly and honestly, explain, show empathy. The success he has enjoyed with this policy far outweighs the pain it sometimes costs him. “When a player I’ve coached for years at the soccer academy makes it to the top league, that gives me an unbelievable sense of satisfaction.” In the voting for the Bundesliga manager of the year 2012, Streich landed in third place. He might not have be- come the school teacher he set out to become, but he is a great educator all the same. Nicolas Scherger “For Me, the University Was a Gift” Christian Streich studied history, German, and physical education – now he’s manager of SC Freiburg’s Bundesliga soccer team “For Me, the University Was a Gift” Christian Streich studied history, German, and physical education – now he’s manager of SC Freiburg’s Bundesliga soccer team PORTRAIT Respect, integrity, mutual trust, responsibility: Christian Streich exemplifies the principles he wants to teach his players. uni'alumni 2013 Alumni Network 9