by Monica Lam-Feist
With my recent travels to Germany, I found myself sitting down with Winfried Klein, who is the head coach of 1.FC Saarbrucken women in the Bundesliga 2.
After asking him a few questions we started to focus on the differences of European futbol versus North American soccer.
When talking to Klein about the differences in the structure of the leagues and the soccer culture in Europe, the same question kept popping into my mind…
What does a North American girl need to know in order to play in Europe?
This question hits home for me as I am in my final year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and am thinking about playing in Europe once I am done.
There are many reasons I am contemplating this decision such as, the opportunity to experience a new culture and put myself in an environment that may be uncomfortable. But a big reason is the structure of North American soccer and its lack of stability for players – the Women’s Professional League has been dissolved twice now and who knows what will happen going forward.
So, what does a girl need to know to be successful and to play in Europe?
Here are 3 simple answers.
1. Self- confidence
Coaches are looking for players that believe in themselves and their ability. This does not mean cockiness, but Klein stresses the importance of players exuding a bit of swagger in the way they play and carry them selves.
“A player shouldn’t be going over doubting whether they are good enough to make it,” said Klein.
To make a journey overseas, it only makes sense to be prepared for anything.
Klein said it is not uncommon for a player to have a try out with multiple teams. Make sure you are prepared physically as well as mentally because you never know what will be asked of you.
Extras: If you have a good highlight DVD, bring that along too.
3. Agents and contacts
An agent may be a good idea for a player as they are able to provide a lot of information through their experience with dealing with the coaches and the leagues.
On the other hand, if an agent isn’t in your budget, don’t fret. Having a contact can be just as valuable because as players know, the soccer world is a small world! Having a contact that is able to get your name on the radar can be just as effective as having your own agent.
If you currently don’t have any contacts, start reaching out to people like current and former coaches, or players you know that have gone overseas. It’s all about networking!