It’s been over ten years. The German footballers had just become European champions in Finland, beating England 6-2 in the highest-scoring final in history. That was in September 2009. The following season, a Berlin club played in the 1st Bundesliga for the last time: Tennis Borussia Berlin.
Since the introduction of the single-track Bundesliga in the 1997/98 season, TeBe has been the only Berlin team that has played first-class. There is now no longer a women’s team at TeBe and since then there has also been no Berlin successor in the Bundesliga. The highest league with Berlin women’s teams is currently the Regionalliga Nordost, in which six Berlin teams are represented: 1. FC Union Berlin, FC Viktoria, Türkiyemspor, Blau Weiß Hohen Neuendorf, Stern 1900 and newly promoted Hertha 03.
A Berlin club is also missing in the second division, Union last played there in the 2016/17 season. Although Union and Viktoria have been champions several times, they almost never get promoted. The dilemma of the regional leagues is that even as a champion you don’t get promoted directly to the second division, but have to go through relegation against the champion of the northern season. An obstacle that some teams have failed at in recent years.
That should change in the future. At least for Union and Viktoria, who have set themselves the goal of promotion for the coming season and will meet on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Lichterfelde stadium to kick off the regional league. Right at the start there is a derby between the two hottest contenders for the title.
The Köpenickers already have experience in the second Bundesliga, most recently in the 2016/17 season and thus for the fourth and last time to date. Last season Union was third in the regional league, this season it should be first place. In addition, the Köpenickers have already strengthened their position as head coaches in March.
With Ailien Poese, the Berliners have a real expert as a trainer, who until recently was used as a so-called match scout for the German national team at the European Championships and analyzed the upcoming opponents of the DFB selection. As the first full-time coach at Union Berlin, she should now use this specialist knowledge to lead the club in the direction of the Bundesliga. “This year we want to take care of promotion to the 2nd division,” says Poese confidently as a goal.
The framework conditions at Union are significantly more professional than at other teams in the regional league. “All players are contract players, we have two full-time coaches with me and Sven Gruel, plus the employed goalkeeping coach Laura Ketzer, a full-time team manager,” says the new head coach. There has never been anything like this at Union and it shows the seriousness of the intention to become more professional overall. In addition to a sports psychologist, Union even has a nutritionist and a yoga teacher.
While Union still approaches its goals relatively conservatively, it looks very different in Steglitz-Zehlendorf. There, FC Viktoria is the exact alternative to the Köpenickers. At the beginning of June, Viktoria caused quite a stir when the women’s department was spun off into its own soccer company. A milestone in implementing the ambitious project of six investors to establish themselves in the Bundesliga in the long term.
One of them is the former national player Ariane Hingst: “I’m from Berlin. From the first second I was enthusiastic about the idea of developing football in my hometown. I think that with my level of fame in football, I can bang the drum and pass on my experience.”
The goal is to “change the German sports world in the long term” and to bring the club into the Bundesliga. Within the next five years, the club from Lichterfelde should not only play in the Bundesliga, but also “become a brand”, according to the founders.
The US club Angel City FC, which was founded by Hollywood actress Natalie Portman, among others, serves as a role model for. In addition to some star players, national goalkeeper Almuth Schult also plays there. On Viktoria’s newly founded website it says: “We want to lead Berlin women’s football to the Bundesliga and permanently change women’s sports throughout Germany.”
Among other things, the players get a fixed basic salary of 251 euros, which is of course a joke compared to the salaries of the male regional league players, and still something completely new and a promise for the future to also provide better security for regional league footballers.
Viktoria is much more self-confident than Union when it comes to setting goals, and yet two teams will meet on an equal footing on Sunday, as the test match about two weeks ago showed, which Viktoria narrowly won 2-1.
In addition to the two favorites for the championship title, other clubs could also play a role, such as Türkiyemspor, who made a good start to the season and, with Eimsbütteler TV, knocked out a promoted team from the DFB Cup 6-1 in the Regionalliga Nord.
Despite the departure of former international Aylin Yaren to Viktoria, the team is well positioned both individually and in terms of width and, after winning the Berlin Cup last year against Viktoria and finishing second in the regional league, can also have legitimate hopes of winning the title do this year. The three other Berlin clubs such as Stern 1900, Hohen Neuendorf and Hertha 03 will not aim for more than staying up.
The duel at the weekend between Viktoria and Union should already be a foretaste of how things may continue in Berlin’s women’s football in the coming years and whether the two clubs actually have what it takes to establish themselves alongside Turbine Potsdam in the Bundesliga . The first steps have been taken by both sides, on Sunday it’s all about collecting three important points in the fight for the championship title.