Goal Click and #WePlayStrong teamed up for a collaboration to tell the inside story of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, from the personal perspective of the players. Tereza Krejčiříková (Slavia Prague) documented her football life during the knockout stages of the UWCL.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your football life?
My name is Tereza Krejčiříková. I was born in a small town in the west of the Czech Republic. Thanks to my dad I have played football since I was born. When I was 6 I started to play for my first team and for the past 3 years I have played for Slavia Prague.
Who is in the photos? Where were the photos taken?
A lot of pictures are from our preseason and how we prepared for the spring season and especially for the Champions League. That is the main part - our journey through the quarterfinal against Bayern. One of the cameras shows part of my knee journey. How I tried to deal with troubles and rehab after surgery.
What did you try to show with the photos? Was there any wider meaning with any of the photos?
When you hear Bayern, Chelsea, Wolfsburg, Lyon…Slavia seems like a small team but we played the quarterfinal the same as they played. So we wanted to show the joy we had and the sadness after elimination. I tried to show the annoying stuff you have to do when you are injured. You're not the one who can do something on the pitch but you have to work and work and work so you can come and do what you love.
What is your favourite photo? Why?
The ones I really love are the team preparing for our away game against Bayern, at the Bayern campus stadium, the facilities and sky was amazing. Also getting ready to walk through the tunnel and in the locker room after our tie against Bayern at home in Prague in this beautiful stadium where almost 8,000 people came to support us. I was sad I couldn't play in this game but the feeling after the game was strong enough. I was proud of my girls.
Are there any good stories connected with the people you photographed?
I have two teammates who I have known for 13 years because we played together in my first girls’ team in Pilsen. We used to be good friends and it continues now in Slavia, and I'm happy I can play with them again in these big games.
What has been your football journey up until now?
I started to play when I was 6 years old in a boys’ team, as I didn’t know there was competitive girls teams at that time. When I was 8 I transferred to my first "girls" team in Pilsen. But I could play for the boys team until I was 15, so I trained with the boys and played for the girls team. From age 12 to 20 I played for Sparta Prague in all the youth teams, and at the age of 16 I made my first appearance for Sparta's A-team. When I was 20 I transferred to Slavia Prague, which is their biggest rival - it was the hardest decision in my career to leave a team that I played 8 years for. But now I'm happy I made this decision.
The worst time for me was when I tore my first ACL. Now I know this first recovery journey was easy, because two years later I tore my ACL and MCL on the other knee. Since that day I have had 3 operations, and for 6 months I couldn't do anything. I wasn’t able to play the game for one year. That was the worst. I have now played my first 15 minutes in a game and I hope it will get better even if my knee needs more work.
Being a football player has a lot of sacrifices, especially for women, but I chose football, I want to play football and that's enough for me.
What are the biggest changes happening at the moment in women's football?
I think women's football in the world is getting bigger, which is very good. But in the Czech Republic I still hear: “You play football? But you are a women.” So it's good we're playing in the Champions League to help Czech women's football become more popular.
What does football mean to you? Do you have a message for the next generation of young female footballers?
I have been playing football for almost 17 years now, so I can say it's my life. Football connects people together, teaches you discipline, and you have to adapt to different situations. Football gives a lot of positives to your life. Yes, you have to work hard but keep working, the game is growing and the opportunities will start to come. That's what I want to say to young footballers.
How have you felt when competing in the UEFA Women's Champions League?
Unfortunately I was unable to play in the Champions League this year, but last year we had an equally impressive year where we played Wolfsburg in the quarterfinals. It was my first time playing in the quarterfinals so it was something really big for me. The first game we played away and we lost, but the second game at home was unforgettable. We drew 1-1 and I will remember this game for a long time because I can say we had a great performance. Also we have amazing fans, it helps a lot in these games.