Groundhopping I

I’m not sure that I want to become a dedicated groundhopper, but after some seasons of taking great delight in watching the Vancouver Whitecaps regularly, I am looking forward to more and a greater variety of soccer, maybe of a higher level as well, and a variety of stadia, in Berlin.

So, yesterday, the girls and I set out for Potsdam to watch the home opener of Turbine Potsdam in the women’s Bundesliga.


How much fun that was and I think we’ll go back!

Turbine

Obviously, Turbine is a terrific name for a soccer club. It’s not entirely atypical for clubs in the former East Germany. Some of these clubs have long-standing working class roots, others were founded in the GDR with fanciful names that typically grew out of an association with a particular workplace.

As the name suggests, Turbine grew out of the local power company and their focus on women’s soccer started in the early 1970s and was very successful in East Germany, winning the national championship six times. The women’s team separated from the original club in the 1990s as the 1. FFC (women’s soccer club) Turbine Potsdam.

In united Germany, Turbine has won the championship six times as well, most recently in 2012. They’ve also won the Champions League twice!

Turbine has been the club team for numerous German international players, including a number of current players.

Our Visit

We can ride the S-Bahn straight to Babelsberg and it’s a lovely 30 minute ride through the Grunewald forrest. With the fantastic weather we’ve been having a 14h match meant that I asked for seats that weren’t in the baking sun. I was thrilled to see supporters on the train already. While the Bundesliga is quite strong and the national team has been as well, I’d read before that fan support is tepid, but at least for the home opener, fan support was numerous and enthusiastic. Attendance ended up being 1,800 in a stadium that seats 10,500.


The stadium is roughly half standing-only and half seats under a roof. It’s famous for its foldable flood lights to accommodate the view on the UNESCO world heritage Babelsberg Park!


The sitting section was pretty full. For our €8/€6 (kids) we ended up with seats in row 2 where you can smell the grass and look into the faces of the players. Terrific!

I knew that the opponent, FFC Frankfurt, is a very strong team, but I didn’t quite realize a) how many international stars play for Frankfurt, and b) Canadian midfielder Sophie Schmidt (known in our household, watching the World Cup or Olympics games as “Frau Schmidt”) plays for Frankfurt. Added bonus!

Other players: Saskia Bartusiak (retired recently from the German national team after Rio gold), Nagasato Yuki (2011 world champion with the Japanese national team, second in all-time scoring for Japan).

Potsdam on the other hand counts German international among its team, including Tabea Kemme who plays left back for Germany and was my favourite player at the World Cup and in Rio. Interestingly she is now playing in central attack for Turbine. Svenja Huth is also a German international and had a great game with lots of pressure forward.

It turned out to be a terrific match. Potsdam scored 2 minutes into the match which obviously made the supporters happy.

There was regular cheering, though not very much singing. We sat at the end that Potsdam  was defending in the first half. So it turned out fortuitous that Potsdam built up more pressure for the second half, right in front of us. Kemme and Huth both scored terrific goals.


Very pleasantly, women’s soccer seems much less afflicted by Italian and South American-style diving and other antics. Great to watch that way and only 2 additional minutes at the end.

The Stadionwurst was a very good Bratwurst and we found some nice ice-cream on the walk back to the station.

 

At the very end of the match, we made our way to the Frankfurt bench to congratulate Sophie Schmidt on her great performance in Rio, winning the Bronze.

Bottom Line

I am not quite ready to commit to buying Turbine kit (although their home blue or away white would work at Whitecaps matches as well), especially because shirts are always so oddly expensive for a piece of polyester with ads on it, but I am pretty sure that we’ll want to return to watch some more matchers at the Karl-Liebknecht-Stadium!

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