Willi Droste
BVB groundsman

„The pitch has a character of its own“

“Right now, we can hear the grass growing.” When talking to experts like Willi Droste, it‘s often hard to tell what‘s meant in jest what‘s not. Can his team of 18 really hear the grass growing, or did he mean the constant hum of the fans? “Both of course,” says Willi, enjoying a laugh.

“Having the best pitch takes a lot of work. We want our lads to be able to play quick passes without injuring themselves.” The stadium doesn’t let in enough sunlight to allow for robust growth. The groundsmen also have to deal with heat in the summer and frost in the winter. So the pitch needs to be illuminated and evenly irrigated or – if conditions are too damp – aired with the help of a fan. “I’m not talking about normal-sized fans,” says Willi, leaning against one of the high-tech devices, which is bigger than he is.

“We work with nature, not against it. The pitch has a character of its own and you get to know each other over the years.” It has already won numerous prizes, most recently DFL’s coveted and prestigious “Pitch of the year” award in 2017.

“The more, the better – that‘s nonsense. We try to optimise our use of fertilisers and actually reduce the nitrogen dosage in the summer, challenging conventional theories. We have also learned a lot regarding electricity and water. We have a water recirculation system and cisterns at the Brackel training ground. Meters have been installed in the stadium to optimise the use of resources. There are solar panels on the roof, too. Just look at all the space we have.” No sooner had he said that than he‘s gone – lot‘s to do. “Bye!”