Lisa Schmitz - Germany
My name is Lisa Schmitz and I am from Cologne, Germany. I am 27 years old, and have been playing football for 24 years. I basically grew up with a ball on my feet, as my father and my brother always played football. I started off as an outfield player until I was 10 years old and then decided to become a goalkeeper. I played on a boys team in my hometown until I was 16 years old and then moved on to play for the women´s team of Bayer 04 Leverkusen. In 2015 I decided to transfer to 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam. Furthermore, I was part of the German Youth National Teams that won the U-17 and U-19 European Championships, as well as ranked 3rd at the U-17 World Championship.
Who is in the photos? Where were the photos taken?
You can see my teammates from 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam, our great fans, and the stadium where we play our home matches. Also, a group of the girls who are injured and doing their rehabilitation next to the pitch. All photos were taken on the practice field or in the stadium.
What did you try to show with the photos? Was there any wider meaning with any of the photos?
The photos are representing everything that is part of football, including the highs and the lows. Sometimes you are on the pitch with your teammates, laughing and playing the sport you love. The next moment you may have an injury, which forces you to sit out and watch from the outside. However, the feeling of always being supported by teammates and fans provides tremendous strength.
What is your favourite photo? Why?
The sentence “Be so good they can’t ignore you” appeals to me directly, motivates me and makes it clear that you should never give up.
Are there any good stories connected with the people you photographed?
The feeling of winning together and laughing after the games is an indescribable feeling for me. It just makes me happy. And if you look at the pictures, you can also see it in the faces of the others. My teammates are friends.
What has been your football journey up until now?
In 2010, I was promoted to the first Bundesliga with Bayer 04 Leverkusen, which was a fantastic feeling back then. The victories, experiences, and travelling with my team led to great memories. Later on, I had to deal with some setbacks due to injuries, which caused me to miss the U20 World Cup. However, I was always certain to fight my way back in order to reach my goal of playing for the national team one day. Finally, in 2018 I had my debut for the national team in front of 22,000 spectators in Canada. I had been waiting for this moment for a long time but I never lost focus on my goal.
What are the biggest changes happening at the moment in women's football?
Many professional clubs in Europe have started to recognize the importance of supporting women´s football. Therefore, they have been showing great commitment by building up their own women's departments. I believe that the continuous support of these clubs can lead to enormous growth of women´s football. Hopefully, this will allow women's football clubs to finance themselves in the near future. The sensational numbers of spectators all over Europe says a lot and in the foreseeable future new sponsors and the media will also recognize the great potential women's football has.
What does football mean to you? Do you have a message for the next generation of young female footballers?
I feel lucky that I was able to turn my hobby into my profession. Certainly, there are not many people who can say about themselves that they can do their job every day with joy and fun. The special feeling that holds together a team is very important to me and there is nothing better than winning in a team. If you have the talent and the determination to work hard day in and day out in order to become a professional soccer player then I can only encourage you to pursue the goal because it is one of the most beautiful professions in the world. Don't let yourself be distracted by fears of the future, pressure from outside, but instead be persistent to pursue your goal.
What are the opportunities for female footballers in Germany?
As long as your career as a professional female athlete or Bundesliga player lasts, you can follow an independent and carefree lifestyle. However, in Germany you also have to focus on what you would like to do after your career, because it is not possible to earn enough money with football to live off upon retirement. The benefits of this career path include getting to know people from all over the world, which may allow you to make great connections that can help you find a job after your career in sports. Additionally, athletes learn and develop many important values that can also be used in the workplace. Assertiveness, willingness to perform, discipline, ability to work in a team, success-oriented, focused, leadership competence, all are important parameters which are sought in companies and which a competitive athlete automatically brings along.
What is the future for German women's football?
In my opinion, the times of a pure women's football club is over, but the big clubs in Germany have to invest more in women's departments. It may even be necessary to establish a percentage of the budget, which must then definitely go to the women's section. Otherwise it is to be feared that German women's football may lose its positive standing and will not be able to compete with successful clubs from other European countries.
What do you expect to change after the 2019 WWC?
I hope that the media interest in Germany will increase significantly after a successful World Cup and that the big professional soccer clubs in Germany will recognize the enormous potential of women's soccer. Unfortunately, it is not possible to achieve the same turnout as the Men´s World Cup but for the image of every German soccer club, a good women's team is also a monetary advantage in the end. If this is recognized, women's soccer in Germany can still grow and attract more and more spectators.