Cape Town - The grass might be different and the surroundings unfamiliar, but you won’t hear any complaints from VfB Stuttgart captain Christian Gentner out in South Africa’s legislative capital city of Cape Town.
In an interview with the club’s official website, the Schwaben midfield favourite took time out from his side’s winter training camp to give fans the lowdown on life in the Rainbow Nation.
Question: You arrived on Tuesday and took to the field on Wednesday. What are your impressions so far of the Cape Town training camp?
Christian Gentner: Good. We had a smooth journey. After our arrival, we moved about a bit to shake off any stiffness after such a long flight. On first impressions, Cape Town is lovely and we have great conditions, the pitch is in good nick and I think we’ll be able to prepare well.
Question:Timo Werner said the ball moves differently here in South Africa. How is it different to Stuttgart?
Gentner: Admittedly, I didn’t know the ball would move differently, but I’ve also noticed a change. The grass is different, which is why the ball rolls in another way, but you soon get used to it.
Question: What do you mean by “the grass is different”?
Gentner: The grass is blunter, but I expected that after training camps in Dubai or Qatar.
Question: That’s certainly to do with the warmer climates. What, then, are the reasons for training in South Africa?
Gentner: Well, the turf is well looked after at home, but still takes a battering during winter. That alone is reason enough to go away. You don’t have the everyday commitments when you’re far from home either, so training is that little bit more intense. Also, it’s not every day you come to Cape Town, so the team can broaden their horizons and make the most of the variety as well as the togetherness in the camp.
Question: You talked about broadening one’s horizons: [sporting director] Fredi Bobic also mentioned in his welcoming speech when everyone ate together on arrival something about “taking something away for life”. Both show that the training camp in a city like Cape Town should not be taken for granted. Is there something here you like in particular?
Gentner: No, because I haven’t really seen the place. First and foremost, it’s about training and preparing for the rest of the Bundesliga season. We’ll still see the city and take something away from it. I spoke to [ex-Stuttgart defender and former South Africa international] Bradley Carnell, who said there are some parts of the city worth seeing. It wouldn’t harm at all to take in a few sights or visit some of the poorer areas.