USA cooperation: U18s team arrive at Schalke

It’s been an exciting few days for the 21 young Americans that have been training at Schalke since Thursday (12/8) as part of a cooperation with the International Soccer Academy (ISA), with the talents from the United States taking part in four sessions, playing their first game and also getting a closer look at the VELTINS-Arena on a stadium tour.

US-Team training session

The Knappenschmiede management and the ISA welcomed the 21 players in the new U18s team with a special event in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday (11/8). Before their opening training session on the Thursday morning, the group spent the evening getting to know their new coaching staff and sorting all the new training gear they will need for the months ahead. Head coach Jens Grembowietz and assistant coach Julian Kaliczok handed each of the boys their Royal-Blue attire ready for their first training session on the pitches next to the VELTINS-Arena. Board member for sport and communication Peter Knäbel and Knappenschmiede and development director Mathias Schober watched on as the youngsters from all corners of the USA had their first touches of the ball on Schalke soil.

US-Team vs SSV Buer

In the afternoon, the players were joined by their parents and an ISA delegation for a stadium tour. They were shown around the home of FC Schalke 04 for two hours, with the American visitors seeing the Royal Blues’ changing room, the hospitality areas, the stadium chapel and many other areas that aren’t normally accessible for fans. The tour was rounded off with a visit to the Schalke Museum, where they could learn more about the club’s history, tradition and values first-hand.

On Sunday (16/8), the US team played a friendly away to SSV Buer – their first game together just three days after their first training session. The US boys showed great energy and enthusiasm on the pitch against Schalke’s neighbours, but lost the game 3-2 in the end. „Considering the short amount of time we’ve been together, I’m very pleased with the team’s display,“ said head coach Jens Grembowietz. „The lads quickly developed an understanding on the pitch, implemented tactics well and didn’t lose their heads after conceding goals.“

US Team in the Arena

The project

In connection with the partnership between Schalke and the International Soccer Academy (ISA), the Knappenshmiede is playing host to an American U18 team between August 2021 and May 2022. The team is made up of 21 US youngsters, all scouted beforehand by the ISA and Knappenschmiede. The players, all aged between 16 and 18, will spend one season in Germany and enjoy the professional training facilities at Schalke’s club complex. Two coaches will take over supervision, coordination and training on a full-time basis. The players will stay at a hotel close to the training ground, where they will be fully catered and cared for. They will attend two German lessons a week and will take part virtually in online courses from their respective schools. In addition to being trained up on the pitch, the youngsters are to be taught the Royal Blue values as well as the history and tradition of the club. In line with this, they will, for example, be taken on a tour through Schalke’s history and of the Arena, while taking part in various activities in and around Gelsenkirchen.