The first half of the U23 training camp ended on Tuesday with the usual football tennis tournament. A series of exciting match-ups culminated in a decider that saw Marco Hober, Dominik Wanner, Kolbeinn Finnsson and Taylan Duman take on Ramzi Ferjani, Maximilian Hippe, Janno Baxmann and Lars Bünning.
Bünning & Co. had raced into a clear 4-0 lead within two minutes, only for "Team Hober" to launch an epic comeback and seal a 5-4 win with the last point. Cue celebrations for the winners, who had secured the bragging rights that come with victory in the annual event, while their opponents trudged off in disappointment.
Coach Tullberg had earlier put the players through some demanding sessions on Monday and Tuesday, repeatedly intervening in the final match to make corrections and calling for more intensity. While the late arrivals had largely been rested on Sunday, almost the entire party took part in the session on Monday. Even the five U19 players participating in the camp settled in well and are adapting to the higher level. In others news defender Maximilian Hippe, who had joined from FC Rödinghausen in pre-season, prematurely extended his contract by a year until 2022.
"I've rarely got to know such lovely people"
Ingo Preuß – the sporting director for the U23s and a Borussia Dortmund veteran who had worked in various roles for the club over more than two decades before focusing exclusively on the Regionalliga side several years ago – has been overseeing proceedings on the ground. Preuß has previously organised a lot of training camps; in his own words, he has been part of "around 20 winter training camps" as an assistant, a coach and a sporting director. But Beja was entirely uncharted territory for him. The recommendation came from a Dortmund-based gastronome, who is travelling with the party and working as an interpreter.
Beja consists of four independent communities, which – together with the town – have a population of 23,000. For a long time, it was home to a small German colony with many German soldiers having lived and worked at the military airport. A visit from Borussia Dortmund's reserve teams represents a source of excitement for the small town and everyone is making an effort to make the training camp a resounding success. "Training camps always depend on the quality of the pitch that we're training on. We've really landed on our feet with this one, because the people here have made a real effort. The pitch is always perfectly prepared for every session. I'm in Portugal for the first time and I've rarely got to know such lovely people," said Preuß.
Double matchday on Wednesday
And what about the sporting element? "I obviously can't yet make a final assessment after just seven sessions. It's always a case of alternating between tough sessions and the fun side – as was the case with our little tournament today; and that's fine. But ultimately, we do still need to do some work on tactics. I hope that will pay off in the second half of the season," Preuß added.
Wednesday sees the U23s face a friendly double-header against Vitoria Setubal (11:00 CET) and Uniao Serpense (16:30 CET) – two really tough tests to overcome before the team are granted a day-off on Thursday. Captain Boyamba and his team-mates will then make the return flight from Lisbon to Düsseldorf, which lasts approximately two hours, on Saturday afternoon.