The sporting ambitions of Viktoria Berlin’s women’s footballers are set high, the goals for a change in society are even more ambitious. “We can be pioneers in so many things. We can make a statement not only in football, but also in society,” said Franziska van Almsick.
The 44-year-old two-time swimming world champion wants to put the role of women on a firmer footing as a member of the supervisory board for the women’s soccer team that has been spun off from the parent club.
In June, six women around soccer world champion Ariane Hingst took over the spun-off division, they want to lead the regional league into the Bundesliga within the next five years. In addition to the sporting goals, the women want to use their project to help women’s sport in Germany to gain more attention, recognition and appreciation.
New paths are also being taken in terms of payment. All Viktoria players receive a salary and are therefore covered by the trade association. “In society, it’s about where the women are and what they can do themselves. To speak of equal pay in this context is silly. But we have to give the whole thing more understanding,” said van Almsick.
The six founders, who are based on the Angel City association formed by actress Natalie Portman in the USA, with which national goalkeeper Almuth Schult is under contract, have been able to attract a total of 87 investors for their project in the past few months, and in this way one million collected euros. Among them are other personalities such as Maria Höfl-Riesch, Carolin Kebekus and Dunja Hayali. In addition, with the job exchange Stepstone and the perfumery chain Douglas, two potent sponsors were won, which are placed on the shirt.
And van Almsick, who used to like kicking the ball herself until competitive sport ended her hobby due to fear of injury, doesn’t just want to be on the sidelines as a prominent greeting: “It was clear to me that I wanted to be close and be there, not only as an ambassador. I want to help change the game,” said the mother of two. “It’s time for women to get more involved and get involved. We don’t need a quota for this. We can do this at Viktoria Berlin with team spirit, empathy and a network.”
However, she will not be able to stop by every match day. The women started the regional league with a 2-1 defeat in the top game against Union Berlin and only lost to Bundesliga side Turbine Potsdam on penalties in the DFB Cup. “I have to be there for certain games. Also to see how much potential the idea has and to pursue it – with men and women. We’re not the emancipate group,” said van Almsick, “the project is so much fun and we haven’t really started yet.”