Germany's renowned Sports University of Cologne has been helping the coaching staff of the national soccer team for the Euro 2012. The Scouting Project analyses the moves and minds of the other teams.
In a small office at the German Sport University in Cologne, a series of computer screens flicker with scenes from some of the latest matches at the Euro 2012. There is an air of deep concentration in the room as a group of students records the facts and figures of each game.
It takes up to eight hours to complete a game analysis.
The students, who volunteer for the project on top of their studies, are all eager to take part.
Jürgen Klinsmann's vision
The German Football Association has been working with the German Sport University since 2005. And since then all international friendly matches, qualifiers, and official matches have been meticulously prepared.
Jürgen Buschmann, who heads the Cologne Scouting Project, said he can still remember the phone call from former Germany player and trainer Jürgen Klinsmann that started it all.
"It came in the middle of the night," Buschmann said, "I sat upright in bed - Mr. Klinsmann was on the phone."
During the 2006 World Cup in Germany, 16 students were responsible for 31 teams.
Now, 45 students are responsible for 15 teams.
Many students are interested in the project, but not all of them can take part. For a start, they need to be able to play football. They also need training in match analysis to ensure a standard definitions and interpretations.
"We take classes before we start to make sure we're all on the same level and that we interpret the various scenes in the same way, so that what we say has value," said Kai Krüger, who has been on the team since 2007.
Ahead of each tournament, the German Football Association's coaching team receives a book's worth of reading material. It includes information about all the other Euro teams. Later they receive another 40-page document and a DVD illustrating various tactics.
"We cannot allow ourselves be led by our opponents," said current German coach Joachim Löw. "But it is very important to know their strengths and weaknesses.
"I don't care to know if players are 1.94 meters tall or if they weigh 85 kilos - we want to know about the characters of the players," Löw added.
This year, Stephan Nopp, a member of the German Football Association, has been working directly with the students from Cologne Sport University to enhance their collaboration.
Good for the resume
It is volunteer work - but the German Football Association often gives the students tickets for matches, football jerseys, or just pays them a visit.
"With every match, we learn something new about football," said Kai.
Sometimes the students are allowed to watch training sessions which are closed to the public then discuss the training session with the national coach.
Students receive a certificate, signed by Buschmann, national coach Löw, and the national team's manager, Oliver Bierhoff.
"It's good for the resume," Kai said with a grin. "It's worth more than money."
That said, the best reward would be a win at the Euro 2012 - because if the German squad wins the cup July 1, the students will know they contributed in their very special way.
Author: Olivia Fritz / za
Editor: Sean Sinico