The world has just witnessed the Fifa Women’s World Cup in Germany, a spectacle promoting the advancement of football globally.
Likewise a young Turkish woman has shown how a small football club in Germany is paving the way in the development of female football.
Beyond a scenic harbour in Hamburg, Germany, is a well-known football club, birthed through an alternative punk movement and distinguished for its intimidating image of a skull and crossbones. This club is often described as a rebellious club, for a range of issues it stands by.
St Pauli — home of football
Formed just over one hundred years ago, St Pauli football club — an unusual yet extremely popular team within and beyond Germany — has opened doors for women to participate in football, advancing ideas of feminism and developing strength in women, beyond race, nationality, age and expertise.
According to Christophe Pieper, the deputy press officer of the club, the existence of the club transcends the game itself and has become home to many. The club bans ideas of racism and discrimination of any kind and opens platforms for political debate during the games.
The club promotes the idea there are no “better” or “worse” fans as the colourful area of St Pauli is known for its vibrant nationality diversity.
The club currently has seven female teams — the first being founded twenty years ago — covering a wide age range of women.
There is no money in women’s football.
For Melike Domac (15), born in Germany, football is something she would like to explore in future, but limitations steer her away from exploring this career.
“I would like to but there is no money in football, especially for women,” Domac said.
At present only three women in Germany are making a decent living through football and this is enough to deter any young girl from pursuing this profession.
Domac has been playing football for five years now, of which one year has been in St Pauli club. She mainly plays for fun and her well-known skill is in defence.
Initially her father did not want her to play because of the rebellious reputation attached to the club, but he has since realised this is a better option for her, as she is no longer tempted to do other things around the city.
Domac stands self-assured, with her hands in her pockets, leaning over to admit this discipline has tamed her “naughty nature”.
The club has instilled values and sense of discipline in her approach to life and has also offered a sense of belonging through its non-fascist (anti-racist) principles.
It is rare to see an immigrant being booed off during a game and this has helped many people integrate into the club. Because times are changing, Domac would like to see equal rights existing for both men and women in football.
With regards to football, she said, “I just want what men have.” Essentially, she would like to have the same facilities, opportunities, training and support men receive in football.
Finally Domac advises young girls to pick up team sports and enthusiastically supports the idea that other women should come and play.
By the time the next Women’s World cup comes, further advancements in female football should have taken place.
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