Ten new players is a lot. Sometimes it can take a while for everyone to fit into the team. It seems that the players of 1. FC Union are doing quite well so far, right at the start of the season they prevailed in a hard-fought regional derby against Viktoria Berlin and clinched their first win of the season.
Now they want to step up their game and get a tiny bit closer to their goal of promotion to the second division in the first home game of the season on Sunday against FSV Babelsberg (2 p.m. / Fritz-Lesch-Sportanlage).
“For the first day of the game, it was a great environment with 800 spectators and a sportingly highly explosive game,” says managing director Lutz Munack in retrospect. Coach Ailien Poese was also happy about the result and describes the first victory as an “exclamation mark”. Your team showed that they worked on the sporting adjustment screws during the preparation.
“We were really happy when Viktoria came along,” she says. “Even during the intensive preparation, we deliberately chose strong opponents.” In the last friendly of the pre-season, her team even managed a 0-0 draw against the Bundesliga side Werder Bremen: That gave the team self-confidence to defend against Viktoria.
Poese herself has been signed on as a coach as part of the new focus on the women’s division this season. Until recently, she worked as a so-called match scout for the German national team at the European Championships, where she analyzed the upcoming opponents of the DFB selection. “You can still feel the enthusiasm for the European Championship on every football field,” she says, “hopefully we can carry this euphoria with us for a while.”
Her own team shouldn’t be lacking in euphoria after winning the derby. Union signed a total of ten new players this season, including 15-year-old central defender Ginger Schulz and midfielder Naika Raissner (17), who moved to Köpenick from Hoffenheim. “We have committed some from our own youth and some who have returned to Berlin, to their homeland,” says Poese. “So we have a real Berlin team.”
The players are all contract players and both Poese and her colleague Sven Gruel work as full-time coaches. “For the players, this is a safeguard, especially when it comes to organizing their own everyday lives and they don’t have to sit at the cash register,” says Poese. “And it’s also an appreciation.”
The fact that the squad is so young also brings with it challenges, for example in terms of workload. “We have to be sensitive to the load control.” Poese thinks it’s important not to “overrun the players with the process of professionalization”, but to gradually introduce them to the growing public attention. The training plan is individually adapted for this and there is a sports psychologist who supports the players in reconciling everyday life and sports. “We have 25 players in the squad and we have a different everyday life 25 times.”
She and managing director Munack are not expecting as many spectators as in the game against Viktoria on Sunday against Babelsberg, but they hope that more and more people will find their way to the stadium over the course of the season – even in winter, when it is not covered Fritz-Lesch sports facility should be a little more uncomfortable.
In the long term, the club would also like to play in a larger stadium that can accommodate 3,000 people and occasionally play games at the Alte Försterei. It remains to be seen how this can be reconciled organizationally with the men’s Europa League.
On Sunday against FSV Babelsberg, Union is the clear favorite to start the game. “In the last game we had someone there who observed it for us, because there is no video material in the regional league,” says Poese. She is expecting an opponent “who showed himself to be incredibly compact and hard-fighting in the first regional league game”. But they can fight – the Union women have already proven that.