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In Forward Gear – Women’s Soccer in Germany

Since winning the European Championship in 2005, the German national women’s soccer team has moved to top position in the FIFA World Rankings. Tina Theune-Meyer, who coached the team to victory in six European Championships and one Women’s World Cup, puts this success down to an improved infrastructure for women’s soccer in Germany.

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Author: Peter Behle
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A further explanation is the growing together of East German and West German women’s soccer. The majority of the players on the national team come from the two most successful clubs in recent years – Frankfurt am Main and Potsdam. Monika Staab, president of the club FFC Frankfurt, recalls her days as a player when women’s soccer was still in its infancy and talks about World Player of the Year and five-times German Player of the Year Birgit Prinz. Bernd Schröder, coach of the club FFC Turbine Potsdam, explains the difference between men’s and women’s soccer. Both clubs put a lot of time and energy into the development of up-and-coming talent.

Turbine works in close cooperation with the Potsdam Sports Academy, which is the only sports school in Germany to offer women’s soccer on its curriculum. Frankfurt has founded the first girls’ soccer academy, in order to ensure that women’s soccer in Germany continues to be successful in the future.

It might seem perfectly normal for women and girls to play soccer nowadays, but for many years it was frowned upon. The road to official recognition was long and hard, but fortunately, the dark days when women’s football was regarded as a kind of fairground attraction are over. Besides the sheer enjoyment of playing, the main motivation for the players is the serious desire to master the skills of soccer as perfectly as possible, the desire to test their strength and ability by taking part in this sport.

The German Football Association did not adopt women’s soccer into its constitution and begin promoting the women’s game until 1970. The founding of the German National League in 1997 gave a tremendous impetus to the women’s game.

However, the national team had done an excellent job of spreading the popularity of women’s soccer in the years prior to this. After winning in 1989, 1991, 1995, 1997 und 2001, they brought home the title of European Champions for the sixth time on June 19, 2005 after a 3:1 victory against Norway in Blackburn, England. On October 13, 2003, the national team won the Women’s World Cup for the first time after defeating Sweden 2:1 in the final in Carson, USA.

Record holder for the most German League Championship titles is FFC Frankfurt (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005). It also won the UEFA Cup in 2002. That triumph was repeated by FFC Turbine Potsdam in 2005, which also won the German League Championship in 2004, thus interrupting Frankfurt’s run of Championship victories.

FFC Frankfurt – which started life as SG Praunheim/Frankfurt – was the first team in the German Women’s League to come up with a professionally-oriented concept which set its sights on raising the profile and improving the image of women’s soccer alongside achieving sporting and commercial success. Monika Staab retired from coaching after eleven successful years and now puts all her energy into her activities as chairperson, director of sport and initiator of the FFC Girls’ Soccer Academy.

FFC Turbine now has a history which stretches back thirty years. In 1971, Bernd Schröder founded the women’s football section of Potsdam Turbine’s factory sports club. This team played in East Germany’s amateur league until 1990. In 1999, the women’s football section became FFC Turbine Potsdam. Just a few years later, in 1995, the club began working in cooperation with the Potsdam Sports Academy at the Olympic base site on the promotion and development of young talent. Currently up to ten talented young female soccer players are accepted by the academy each year.
Goethe-Institut e. V. 2005
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