Trip of a Lifetime IV: Effenberg, Augsburg & Family
Prior to Bayern’s Bundesliga match with FC Augsburg, Bayern had arranged for the visitors to meet club legend and former captain Stefan Effenberg at the Allianz Arena prior to the match.
Every member of the DC Bayern fan club was extremely excited for the opportunity to meet such an important player in Bayern history.
Even for those who were either too young or not even born when Effenberg was a Bayern player, the history of the club is well known to us as fans, and the captain of the 2001 Champions League winning side needed no introduction.
The man himself was everything that nearly every Bayern player and representative has shown themselves to be. He was extremely affable and kind, regaling us with his travels and life in the U.S. and promising a return visit to the club if and when he is back in the States.
He was more than happy to take photos and sign autographs for all in attendance. This was the cherry on top of what was a week that every last person in this group will never forget.
Match day was yet another great experience as we witnessed Bayern put five goals past Augsburg after an early stumble that saw the visitors score in just the second minute.
It was a beautiful day and the Bayern offense was in full flow with João Cancelo scoring his first goal for Bayern, Benjamin Pavard scoring twice, Leroy Sané adding the fourth and Alphonso Davies finishing off the scoring.
To cap things off, several members made their way to the Säbener Straße Sunday morning for the open training where they had the chance to see the players in action more closely and even grab a few pictures and autographs. It was the perfect end to a perfect week of Bayern activities.
This trip. The efforts of everyone involved, from our president Michael Fähnle-Hedge to the representatives from Bayern that he constantly communicated with for months. The care that they took to make this experience as special and unforgettable as it was. This is what sperates Bayern Munich from every other club in the world.
Mia San Mia is a term that I know can cause groans these days because of how often it’s used and how commercial it has become. However, there is no doubt that this mentality still means something not only to the supporters, but also to the club.
What FC Bayern did for us as a fan club is something I cannot imagine happening at any other football club (or professional sports team) in the world. It’s this care and attention to detail that shows when officals at the club talk about the family culture, they actually mean it.
Every last one of us would support Bayern regardless of whether they did this for us or not. We would continue to spend money on merchendise. We would be lifelong fans. They don’t have to do these things to ensure that.
However, they do understand that by providing these types of experiences, they are not only cementing our loyalty, they are growing the potential future fanbase abroad. They are differentiating themselves and growing their support base in a way that ingratiates people into their culture no matter how far away they might live from Munich.
It builds firmer foundations and inspires loyalty that is often missing in sports these days. It breeds a culture where fans want to know more about the club’s history, the city, the country and the foundations of that culture.
Every last one of us felt throughout this trip that Bayern genuinely cared about us. That they cared that we were supporters of the club. That they valued us as a member of their community.
The representatives that helped to arrange things for us took care to make sure everyone had everything they needed to enjoy the trip to the fullest. One of our members had recently sustained an injury that limited his mobility. They made sure at every stop to have a wheelchair available and waiting for us as soon as we stepped off the bus.
One person had not brought cash with them to the Bayern II match unaware that they did not take credit cards. One of the staff offered to give them money out of their own pocket to buy concessions. Presumably they would have been reimbursed but even still, there was no question or hesitation on their part. The first instinct was to take care of the their guest.
The people are what make this club special. The employees. The representatives and former players. The current players. The supporters. Every individual component of this club cares about the other and drives the culture. Loyalty, respect and appreciation going in both directions for each part.
It is those people that made this trip so special. By the end of the trip, every one of us would have liked nothing more than to line up and thank every individual who helped to organize this trip. It was unquestionably a logistical nightmare for all involved and the effort it took to pull it off was extraordinary.
Every aspect of this trip was planned and executed to highest level of care. The people were amazing. The events were unique and unforgettable. This is the perfect example of what makes Bayern different. It’s the perfect example of what makes them worth following.
So when I labeled these articles the trip of a lifetime, I genuinely meant it. It could easily sound like a platitude or hyperbole. But in this case, there is really no other way to describe it.
None of the sixty plus people on this trip will ever forget it. We will always be grateful for the time and experiences we had. We will always feel as though we’re part of the family. And we will always believe in Mia San Mia.