Two young Australian brothers have joined the academy of German club Borussia Monchengladbach as they seek to hone their skills and one day break into the Bundesliga.
Brothers Ben Becker and Charlie Davidson, who share the same father but have different mothers, have both linked with the academy of Die Fohlen.
The pair were born and raised in Sydney’s inner west but have German heritage.
Goalkeeper Ben is 14 years old while central midfielder Charlie is 12.
Both youngsters came through the youth sides of APIA Leichhardt, with Ben a product of ex-Socceroo Nick Rizzo’s academy and Charlie spending time at the Futboltec academy run by former A-League players Jason and Glen Trifiro.
The brothers have relocated to Germany in the past year with their family and aim to continue their football development amongst the best in Europe.
“We spent 23 years in Australia and in 2019 I had to return to Germany for family reasons, and I wanted to show the boys some German culture,” Mother Astrid Becker explained to The World Game.
“Benny had quite a talent as a goalie and we thought in Australia it was not that easy to get good goalkeeper training when they’re very young.
“When I knew I was moving to Germany I contacted several clubs about getting [the boys] a trial. Schalke invited us for a trial, and he was there for six weeks.
“Charlie went to Borussia Monchengladbach, had two training sessions and they wanted him and he came to the under-12s.
"The Bundesliga clubs usually go for the big, tall kids. Charlie is the opposite, he’s agile and quick, but he has other attributes.”
The impact of COVID-19 in Germany has slowed down football in the past 15 months, but Ben has now also officially signed with Monchengladbach.
“Ben was invited to quite a few clubs – Dortmund, Leverkusen, Schalke, Monchengladbach – but they couldn’t do any trials because of corona,” Astrid explained.
“And finally in March, Benny was invited to two clubs, Monchengladbach and Schalke. He went there for training sessions and after two sessions they offered him a deal for the Under-15s and we signed.
“Benny is absolutely loving it because the keeper training is stunning. They do full on – at least twice a week – just specific keeper training, then do keeper training combined with team training.
“He’s loving it. It also suits his playing style, as a sweeper-keeper.”
The family has now experienced youth development structures in both Australia and Germany, and father Andy believes the Australian system cannot compare to what exists in Germany.
“The big difference is the environment here,“ he said.
“It’s a whole professional environment and that motivates the kids even more.”
The family are one of a number from Australia who have relocated to Europe in recent years to give their children the best chance to develop as elite players, with Australian kids now featuring in top clubs in Italy, Croatia, Belgium and Sweden.
“There’s a future for Europe, but not in Australia,” Astrid said.
“We have the luxury of a European passport, which many don’t. There’s no guarantees in sport. But in the end not doing it would be worse than not giving it a crack.
Both brothers dream of eventually becoming professional footballers as they get older and one day competing in the Bundesliga.
“Benny is not ambitious in school but he’s very ambitious in football,“ Astrid said. “The same thing goes for Charlie.”