Marie-Louise Eta makes history as the first coach of men’s professional football

Of course, it was only a coincidence that the names of Marie-Louise Eta and Emma Hayes appeared in the headlines just hours on Wednesday in connection with the presentation of two coaching positions to be filled.

One of them, Hayes, was introduced at noon as the new coach of the United States women’s team; the other, Eta, as the new assistant coach of the men’s team of 1. FC Union Berlin. Together with U19 coach Marco Grote, the 32-year-old will take over the management of the professional team, at least temporarily, following the painful separation of coach Urs Fischer. While Hayes already has a great career as coach of Chelsea FC, Eta is now making history: she is the first coach to sit on the bench in German men’s professional football. How long? The answer to this question will depend on the sporting success of the team after the international break and of course on the search by those responsible for the sport for a successor for the Swiss.

The former workplace was the small FEZ stadium Wuhlheide.

Neither this scenario nor the right moment was the 32-year-old’s stated goal when she arrived in Berlin this summer as assistant coach of the young talent. From the first days, the new environment in Wuhlheide brought with it numerous training sessions, conversations, searching for accommodation and organizational issues. And then the appointment for the interview took place that August afternoon of this year in the small stadium of the FEZ Wuhlheide. The stadium of the 1. FC Union Berlin youth team was remodeled shortly before the Youngster Cup at the end of July: in a true Union-style job, 1,200 seats were installed on both straights, which became the workplace of the new U19. Assistant trainer Make small jewelry boxes.

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This should be the next stop on the road to the pros; In the coming weeks, months, maybe even years, not only the home matches of the Junior Bundesliga with the U19s will take place here, but also the training sessions with the youth. In recent weeks he also sat on the coach’s bench at the Alte Försterei stadium. He competed twice with the under-19s in the Youth League organized by UEFA against the best youth teams in Europe. Thanks to the professionals who qualified for the Champions League.

“We can get on this train, we are happy about that. But we must not forget that our main task is the Junior Bundesliga and we want to be as successful as possible there. These are outstanding matches, we should enjoy them, but we have a different task,” the young aspiring coach said a few months ago, and in terms of content she already sounded like professional coach Urs Fischer, who is no longer in office. When he arrived at 1. FC Union Berlin, when he had been in office for five and a half years, they asked him about the sporting objectives of his team.

Before the current season, Marie-Louise Eta saw very good prospects for the Iron Men; The new role in the youth ranks should be another step towards men’s professional football. The former soccer player wanted to get there at some point, without having her great career plan in mind. “The goal is to be able to go as high as possible,” she said in August. Because: “Other things are important to me: the feeling of being able to contribute, make a difference and develop further. Staying still is the worst thing that can happen to you, and a lot of things are developing at the club. “I’m happy to be part of a bigger picture.” Now, suddenly, it’s part of the most important thing the club has in sporting terms: the professional team.

Marie-Louise Eta: Union Berlin is synonymous with family, passion, heart…

During the conversation, the park train was passing noisily in the background, which reminded Marie-Louise Eta of her hometown, Dresden. Due to her origins in East Germany, she has always followed 1. FC Union Berlin and is now part of this special culture in Köpenick. “It is a club that I have always liked a lot, with all the values, the fans and football itself,” she says. “It is a club that represents many things: family, passion, heart, worker mentality, simplicity, respectful interaction: these are things I can identify with. “That’s how I grew up.”

And that is how she was carried throughout her career. At the age of 13 she moved from 1. FFC Fortuna Dresden-Rähnitz to Turbine Potsdam, where she won the Champions League in 2010 and three German championship titles from 2009 to 2011. She went through all the youth teams and even became world champion under-20 in 2010 with her maiden name Bagehorn. This did not go unnoticed by the young people of Unión, with whom she worked until the end. “Recently, when we were running as a team to the ice cream parlor, two boys approached me and told me that they wanted to run alongside a world champion,” says Marie-Louise Eta about an anecdote from her first days with Eiserne.

Anyone who talks to him about football and his first time in the Union youth team will immediately see the enthusiasm in his eyes and can read on his lips the specialness of this task. When she, as a woman, talks about acceptance in general, but specifically in a team of young men and teenagers, for her it is not about gender, but about quality.

Working together at Real Madrid in the Youth League with the 1. FC Union Berlin U19: coach Marco Grote and assistant Marie-Louise EtaMatthias Koch/imago

Without having the comparison value of how a new man would be received on the coaching staff of a men’s team, “he had the feeling that with a new boy, people would first look” at what he could do with the ball. In his case, “the boys should have seen that I can contribute certain qualities, that we are at the same level. And of course it helps that I kicked him once. If they see that you can take a ball and do something, it usually helps with acceptance. The boys test you a little. It seems that the question of men and women does not influence, which is not a fact.”

And yet, he is currently more present than ever in football. Women’s football has gained a lot of popularity at least since last year’s European Championship, there is more and more talk of referees in men’s football and Marie-Louise Eta’s chances of landing a coaching position in men’s professional football increased by at least once with the acquisition of the High Professional License.

Among more than 100 trainers, she was one of the remaining 60 people invited to the aptitude test and was then able to complete Germany’s most important training course together with 15 men. For her it was an absolute privilege and a recognition of her abilities, something that she also confirmed afterward. “I never wanted to come to the field to meet a quota, but because I have quality. If a man is more suitable, why should he get the job? It’s always about quality,” she says.

I am completely relaxed

The fact that she was ultimately the only woman in the course she successfully completed in the spring of this year is not a structural problem for her. After all, more men play in football than women, but in other areas of the working world the situation is the other way around. “But something is developing” in football. Although the Dresden native is not too influenced by the topic of men and women: “It doesn’t always work, but I try.”

After her first weeks at 1. FC Union Berlin, she feels like a full member, although her players have only met one woman in sport as a teacher at school, but not yet as a football coach. But this does not influence the collaboration: Marie-Louise Eta and the technical team want to help the club’s talents become part of the Unioner’s professional team; She made it her personal goal to be on the sidelines of men’s professional football until the club’s separation from Urs Fischer was behind her on Wednesday morning. “I don’t feel like I have to go into professional football for the next two or three years,” she said in August. “If this is really great for the next ten years, then I’ll be happy to keep doing it. I am completely relaxed. Everything else will become evident.”

And as this week has shown, in this business anything can happen suddenly and very quickly. While her husband, Benjamin Eta, with whom she shares an apartment in Bremen, was released early after ten months as a coach at SC Weiche Flensburg 08 of the northern regional league, she has now temporarily joined the professional coaching circle of the men’s soccer As the first woman in Germany and not only for that reason, as president Dirk Zingler clearly said: “It is not a conscious decision to have a woman as assistant coach, that would almost discredit the decision again. For me she is a trained soccer teacher. “This was not a decision of a woman, but of a football teacher who works as a team.”

But Zingler also made it clear on Wednesday that he and the sports management were looking for a successor for Urs Fischer outside the Alte Försterei. Of course, this would mean that Marie-Louise Eta would have to return to the under-19s. For the team player this would not be a problem; after all, her career planning was different. However, this does not mean that the energetic is already satisfied with her current role as second coach of the under-19s for the future. Even as a player, commitment, hard work, the will to learn and passion were important to her, “always being at your best with your heart in what you do, wanting to continue developing, never being satisfied and always thinking about where you are.” You can then improve. “Be self-critical and keep working because nothing can be taken for granted,” she said in the summer, overflowing with enthusiasm.

As a player, Marie-Louise Eta already worked as a coach

An enthusiasm that will now also be shown among the professionals of 1. FC Union Berlin and that has always been present when it comes to football. Since she was little, everything revolved around soccer for her. Even when she goes out to eat these days, the conversations mainly revolve around football because she often runs into friends who also have a lot to do with football. Her love went so far in previous years that “as a player, I realized that I liked to deal with more things: on the field, during training, everything around me. “I looked at the big picture from the beginning and was a leader,” she says. “As a player, I also worked as a coach and got my licenses. I realized I really got into this and had a lot of fun.”

When it was necessary to make a decision about one thing or the other, the head was also helped a little by the body, which no longer wanted to, and his playing career ended with relegation at SV Werder Bremen. At only 26 years old, the focus was on being a coach. The first important steps before moving to Köpenick this summer were his roles in the youth ranks of Werder Bremen and the DFB U15 and U17 national teams. To the club that makes dreams come true. Now also that of Marie-Louise Eta.

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