It does not get greener


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Bundesliga games, DFB Cup, friendly matches and training sessions - the requirements for a pitch in the football stadium are tough. As a professional tiller, Georg Vievers knows exactly what grasses need to be fit for everyday football. In an interview with MEIN editor Dieke van Dieken, the greenkeeper Borussia Mönchengladbach reveals his secrets.

Mr. Vievers, is the groundskeeper of the past comparable to today's Greenkeeper?

The demands on the turf have increased enormously in recent years, especially since the 2006 World Cup in Germany. In the past, the players were happy when the groundskeeper repaired the battered area in the winter with one or two carts of sand. Such a thing would be unthinkable today.

How did you become a Greenkeeper?

Georg Vivers, Greenkeeper at Borussia Mönchengladbach

Greenkeeper Georg Vievers knows how to get a perfect pitch

I am a trained nursery gardener and have completed a three-year advanced training as a certified greenkeeper at the DEULA (German School of Agricultural Engineering). Because my father was "Head Greenkeeper" with the English, who had a military base and golf course here in Mönchengladbach, I was able to collect more and more experience with greenkeeping during the summer holidays. So the spark jumped over relatively early.

Does the maintenance of a golf course differ greatly from that of a football field?

It's like apples to pears. In golf we talk about cutting heights of three, four or five millimeters, in the football stadium we work with 25 millimeters and upwards. That is a huge difference in the care.

Speaking of cutting height, are you allowed to set it yourself or are there exact specifications?

The DFL gives the clubs some leeway by setting 25 to 28 millimeters. In Champions League games, it must be exactly 25 millimeters. In addition, the coaches often have their own ideas and the cutting height would like to have even lower - arguing that at FC Barcelona cut to 20 or 22 millimeters. But there are other climatic conditions that can not easily be transferred to our region. Every millimeter less hurts the plant! That is, we take her a bit of regeneration ability. The deeper we cut, the less roots the plant makes, and then the whole thing flies around my ears. That's why I fight for every millimeter.

Mobile lighting system

A mobile lighting system provides the stadium lawn with the optimum amount of light

With a chance of success?

At least to the extent that I was able to convince the coach: 25 mm cutting height and point! Everything becomes difficult. If the pros train twice a day, the training places will also be cut twice a day, prior to each exercise session. We are one of the few Bundesliga clubs that also mow on match day. This not only makes the surface look better, the team also has exactly the turf that we offer in training.

A clear home advantage, right?

Definitely! Many colleagues from other clubs do not have this option. Their place is mowed, for example, the day before. Be it because the city or another external care team is responsible. Then it can happen that the lawn has put on an overnight one to one and a half millimeters. Does not sound like much, but the players notice immediately that the ball runs differently than they are used to.

How can I imagine the work of a Greenkeeper? Mow the lawn all day?

That would be too boring for me. The most important implement of a Greenkeeper is not the lawnmower, but the grave fork. You probably know them from the television, when the nursing team goes across the field in the half-time break, so that they can get back on the steps and eliminate first turf damage.

Tell us the trick, how to get the nice pattern into the lawn?

This is not witchcraft. The normal lawnmower has four wheels. Instead, our equipment has a roller at the back, which places the grass one way or the other while cutting. This light-dark effect can also be produced on the home lawn. Provided you have a roll mower. If you place the grass always in the same direction, it will be too long. Therefore, the MĂ€hrichtung must be changed regularly and sometimes cut against the grain.

The digger fork is the most important implement of a greenkeeper

The digger fork is the most important implement of a greenkeeper

Are your lawnmowers laser-controlled?

No, we measure exactly to the centimeter and drive exactly along the line. Since this season, the mowing image in the Bundesliga is exactly prescribed, as a guide for the referee assistant. That's been the case in the Champions League for a while. Although there are laser-controlled models for the ruling machines, marking is also done by hand. It's even faster and just as accurate.The two colleagues are so well-tuned that they arrive at the same time at the center circle at the ruling and there with their devices can pass each other.

Uli Hoeneß once said that Lothar MatthĂ€us would not even be Greenkeeper at Bayern. Sounds as if the job at Borussia Mönchengladbach has a higher priority?

I am here now in the thirteenth year. In the meantime I have seen many coaches come and go and everyone is different. The sporting situation is crucial at the moment. When the team is in the basement, every option is drawn to get out there. This concerns the choice of the training camp as well as the greenkeeping - that is, mowing higher or lower, damp or rather dry places, etc... I do not want to talk about significance. Much more important is the years of experience, getting to know each other and the communication that I would like to highlight at Borussia, not only on Greenkeeper basis, but in general in the club.

How does the communication work?

We are very fortunate that our building is located on the club grounds. As a result, the paths are short. The coaches and players often run into each other, talking and exchanging. If there are any special requests, we talk about them and we try to fulfill them. Whether it's Saturday or Sunday, daytime, night or early morning, it does not matter. That is why we are here. All in all, we all work for the same goal - to score three points as often as possible.

What would be such a special request?

For example, Lucien Favre had the habit of training the standard situation under the most realistic conditions possible. The players and the coaching team came so after the final training from the next seat over into the stadium. The problem is the shoes! With these diseases can be wonderfully transferred from one place to another. If the lawn has a fungal attack, the area may be within two or three days. How fast such things can be seen at the beginning of the season in the Munich Allianz Arena. A nightmare for every greenkeeper! To prevent this from happening, we agreed that the boys would step into a shallow bath with a disinfectant solution for a short time before entering the stadium turf. Everything goes, you just have to talk about it.

How do you deal with it, if someone in front of the camera negative voice over the lawn?

Honestly? Right in, left out! If we lose in the 89th minute due to a mistake that occurs during the game, then it is so. Over time, you get a thick coat, as long as you know you've got the best out of the stadium turf and training pitches. Everything else is due to the 22 people running behind the ball.

"In a good football game, sometimes one or the other shreds may fly."

What happens when the lawn after a game has more damage?

Part of a good football game is that the scraps fly here and there. For such cases, we have 1500 square meters of breeding turf here on the site. In terms of its composition, it corresponds exactly to the stadium turf and is also maintained in such a way that it can replace the damaged areas one to one if necessary. If I edit an exchanged piece fine with the digger fork, and you look in the meantime briefly away and then down again, find the place no more.

Would not it be easier to lay artificial turf?

On the training courses we sometimes even have artificial turf and also hybrid turf, that is a mixture of natural grasses and synthetic fibers. These pads are mainly used where the load is extremely high, such as in the area of ​​the head ball pendulum and goalkeeper training. To be fair, one has to say that between artificial and real turf there are hardly any discernible differences. Most players and coaches still prefer natural grass. Here, the -psychological effect certainly plays a major role.

Is there something like the special Borussia Mönchengladbach lawn?

In the meantime, the grass breeders of the Bundesliga stadiums know exactly which grass varieties are best suited for such "dark holes", from the German ryegrass to red fescue to meadowcrackers. If we have a lawn swap, I inform myself in advance at the breeder about the grasses used, the age of the lawn and the previous care program. I also talk to colleagues from other clubs. Currently Bayern Munich, Eintracht Frankfurt and we have the same lawn, taken directly from the same field.

Greenkeeper at work

Between the games only the greenkeepers are allowed to enter the lawn

That is, the contact with the greenkeepers of other clubs is not characterized by rivalry?

We are here in Gladbach, but I have no problem with Cologne at all! Sporty there may be a rivalry, but from the greenkeeping ago everything is fine. At our regular meetings, I love to talk to colleagues from Leverkusen, Schalke, Dortmund, Hamburg, whoever. If there is a problem somewhere, then you help yourself.The exchange is the most important thing! We have to be on television every two weeks and everyone wants to give their best image.

Is there a German Greenkeeper master?

For the past three years, the DFL has been honoring the so-called "Pitch of the Year", as in England. For this, the referee and the captains of both teams have to give a rating to the lawn after each Bundesliga match. The three clubs with the highest score will be examined separately by a panel of judges consisting of members of the German Lawn Society. This announces at the end of the season, the "playing fields of the year" in the First and Second Bundesliga. We have not been there yet.

It's all about football. Are you still watching the games?

Sure, I'm still watching football! But I look at the games differently today than they did ten, twelve years ago. I know what the players want. I know what the coaches want. I'm interested: How's the ball going? Does he have the certain effect when he touches down. How fast will he be doing this? The game itself is then incidental. I always like eye contact with our goalkeeping coach Uwe Kamps. When he warms up, he and our two goalies are the first to come out. These are the decisive moments for me. The boys need to feel good as soon as they enter the area. Even better, they do not bother with the turf, but can concentrate on their job of playing football. Then we did the best job. If three points come out at the end, so much the better.

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