The suitcases have not yet been packed. There are still three international matches and the training camps in Sicily and South Tyrol on the agenda. However, what will be packed in the suitcases and boxes has long been decided. When the German national team leaves Frankfurt on 6th June bound for South Africa in Lufthansa’s brand-new A 380, there will also be five tons of baggage on board for the "Football World Cup 2010" mission.
The logicians of the German football alliance are farsighted people. "Our planning assumes that the team will reach the final", says Georg Behlau. On the one hand, that is an expression of optimism and confidence in the strength of the team led by national coach Joachim Löw. When the "office manager of the national team", the rather rough job description of the 41-year-old manager, thinks right through to the final, above all, that is something that is organizationally essential. Because the further the team goes in the tournament and the longer it stays in South Africa all the more equipment will be required. Starting with spices and oils for the cook, the ointments and pills of the medical department, right through to the shirts.
As the DFB’s kit man Thomas Mai reckons with two complete sets of shirts, shorts and socks per game, with the group games, round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final on 11 July in Johannesburg, he must pack a total of 14 packages - ten with white and four with black shirts. In addition, there will be four pairs of football boots for each of the 23-man squad - from Adler to Wiese. One pair each with studs and a moulded sole have already been worn - ensuring that Germany’s most valuable feet do not suffer unnecessary blisters. The two pairs of shoes in reserve with studs and moulded sole will be new, however. Just like the elegant suits from the noble tailor Strenesse and the six sets of training gear per player, which are traditionally supplied by adidas. Besides shirt, shorts, socks and rain-jacket, the set also includes a tracksuit, which kit man Mai prefers to call a "working suit".
The leisurewear of Schweinsteiger, Gomez and Co., will be packed in XL bags, so that there is also room for gloves, scarves and warm caps. In South Africa, says Georg Behlau, and enlightens the astonished visitor, "in June it’s winter". The team’s headquarters, the five-star "Velmore Garande" hotel on the outskirts of Pretoria, is located at an altitude of 1,600 metres. "After 18.00 hrs.", Behlau knows from his own experience, "it can get really cool up there". During the night a ground frost is even possible.
Prior to the arrival of the team, Behlau and his team, which organizes the travel of the German national team, makes a thorough inspection of the stadiums, training grounds and hotels, organizes Playstations for the players’ leisure time, makes sure that fitness equipment is available and are also contact persons for the three team doctors, four physiotherapists and the cook, already started preparations for World Cup 2010 two years ago. At two-year intervals between World Cups and European Championships "we start preparations for the next tournament, so to speak", says Behlau. The result of the preparations for South Africa is summarized in a 70-page organization manual in which the baggage for the entire DFB delegation of 70 is estimated at five tons.
Because, in addition to the 70 suitcases which the DFB partner Rimowa has designed specially for the World Cup and which besides three gold stars - for the three previous World Cup victories - all bear a number between 1 and 70 in a circle as a form of individual identification, the staff of Lufthansa Cargo must also pack 22 aluminium crates into the aircraft which are over 80 centimetres wide, 80 high and 40 deep. Star chef Holger Stromberg may fill six of these crates with pots and pans, spices, fats and oils. The rest are for the team and the officials. "We will take office equipment for ten complete workstations with us", explains Georg Behlau. That means everything from computer via mobile phone to photocopier. For the players, coaching staff and officials are the two large coffee machines and the two juice extractors which are also stowed in the hold of the A380. The baggage being transported as airfreight is not even all that extensive this time. Since South Africa prohibits the import of meat and fresh fish, national team chef Stromberg must buy locally. And the fitness equipment which has been available at every tournament and on a smaller scale at every international match since Jürgen Klinsmann’s period in office and which has the top priority for the coaching staff, will be provided by the suppliers Nautilus and the U.S. manufacturer Kaiser, via their local South African partners. The bikes for regeneration, running bands gymnastic mats, weights or the compressed air-powered training equipment, therefore, does not need to travel to South Africa as airfreight.
The same applies to equipping of the players lounge, which Georg Behlau likes to describe as the "team’s living room": "They can chill out there: play cards, battle with the Playstation, watch TV and simply relax in their free time". Sony supplies the games consoles, laptop computers, CD player or printers and independently installs the equipment in the team hotel which for five weeks will be the base camp of the German national football team looking to win its fourth World Cup title.
The fact that Lufthansa will fly the national team to Johannesburg with a special flight on 6th June is "the very pleasant continuation of what has become a very popular tradition" for chief organizer Behlau. At Lufthansa, says the DFB manager "Quality, service and performance are all top".