"This tournament helps keep grassroots football alive," said Württemberg coach Michael Rentschler as the German paid tribute to the UEFA Regions' Cup.
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"It is just a great competition," said Württemberg coach Michael Rentschler as he looked ahead to the UEFA Regions' Cup finals. "The grassroots are an important part of football and this tournament helps to keep grassroots alive."
The 44-year-old knows the competition well: he coached Württemberg in 2012/13 when they came to within one game of the final tournament, and was a defender for the Württemberg side that staged the 2003 finals amid blistering heat in southern Germany. "I really enjoy this competition," he said. "It is a highlight for me as well as the players, and it is always exciting to get to know new people and new surroundings."
Several members of Rentschler's squad have also had previous qualifying experience, and recognise that the UEFA Regions' Cup is something special. "It gets the players out of their everyday lives and it is very professionally run by UEFA – and of course they get to wear a Germany shirt," he said. "Wearing the eagle on your chest: that matters."
Their pride was evident as Württemberg outlasted opponents from Slovakia, England and Scotland in intermediary Group 2 of qualifying, and Rentschler notes that teams tend to have defining national characteristics – even at amateur level: "The eastern European sides are quite well drilled when it comes to technique and tactics. The English and Scottish teams prefer the traditional British approach, it seems."
His own charges are aggressive too. "We want to attack and dominate all the time," he said. "We like quick transitions and getting shots on goals. Of course, this means keeping the ball a lot of the time."
To that end, midfielder and business administrator Martin Kleinschrodt – featuring in his third UEFA Regions' Cup – is a key player who offers "danger in front of goal", according to his coach. Attacker and university student Marian Asch also elicits a special mention for his "pace and versatility".
As amateurs, Württemberg have to fit their football in around work and family commitments, yet Rentschler is intent on assembling his players for training sessions and friendly matches before the Dublin finals in June and July – even if a full-blown training camp is out of the question. Their aims are high. "Ultimately we would like to reach the final," said the coach.