Bright sunshine, 20 degrees Celsius and a blue sky – the conditions for the women’s national soccer team could hardly be better. The team headed by national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg has lodged in Wyong, around 100 kilometers north of Sydney, for the World Cup. “The weather is great, it’s perfect for playing football,” said midfielder Sydney Lohmann.
While parts of the DFB women’s training ground are showing the signs of a long summer – golden-brown turf, brittle ground and faded line markings – the German team’s training ground has had a freshly laid lawn ahead of the World Cup – and looks very ‘schmick’ (“chic”, editor’s note) off, as the Australians would say.
The DFB entourage is housed in bungalows at the “Kooindah Waters Golf Club”, which some players describe as “not exactly modern”, but “okay”. Others, like Lea Schuller, find the system “really cool”.
“It’s like an apartment. Each of us has a room and a bathroom and a shared living room with a kitchen. That’s exactly what we need,” says the attacker. “And we can meet up with several people in the living area, so I think it’s a good choice.”
Acclimatization away from the big city
Away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney, players have a degree of freedom and privacy here. They used the first few days after their arrival to explore the region a little. “We’re off the beaten track here,” says Lina Magull. “The grounds are big, so there’s a bit of peace. The golf course is nice to look at, but I don’t think we have great female golfers here.”
Golf wasn’t on the agenda, but some players explored nearby Shelly Beach. Some players head to Sydney on a rest day to see the famous sights. Others took the opportunity for a whale watching tour. If you ask most players what they want to see in Australia, the answers are pretty predictable: kangaroos, koalas and the newest social media attraction: quokkas.
During a public training session, where the DFB team was greeted by the indigenous community of Darkinjung with an incense ceremony, the players also came into contact with some fans from the “Central Coast” region.
Lohmann: “We want to write our own history”
The team was asked again and again about the mood in the camp and how they were doing compared to last year’s European Championships in England. At that time, Germany reached the final, which they lost to the hosts. The players firmly believe that this World Cup is a new chapter and a new chance to make history. “We don’t want to compare it with the EURO. We will write our own, different history here,” says Lohmann, adding: “Well, hopefully a different one!”
One advantage of the German team is the cohesion that the players built up during the European Championship. At the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, 19 of the 23 players who played in England are also there. That consistency and familiarity could make all the difference in the close battles against the top nations. In the coming days it’s all about strengthening this cohesion and using it on the pitch.
“As a team, we sat down internally and talked about certain things, for example what we expect from ourselves,” explains Lina Magull. “We are in good shape at the moment and of course this cohesion will become even stronger in the coming days and weeks.”
Bad form is not a problem
However, the German team does not go into the tournament with the greatest confidence. There have been just two victories in their last five games, including a surprise 3-2 defeat in the final pre-season game against Zambia, one of eight sides set to make their World Cup debut. “It’s important that we find our way in the group phase,” says Lohmann. “I am convinced that we will play very differently in the first game.”
At least the conditions seem to fit. Because while other teams had to finance their journey themselves, went on strike or were confronted with scandals about sexual harassment, the DFB women didn’t have any major problems.
There is a sleep expert at basecamp who provides players with sleep clocks to help them fine-tune their bodies. In addition, two on-site cooks ensure that the team is well fed. In addition, there is a relaxed attitude outside of training and the presence of Melanie Leupolz’s little son also ensures a positive mood and a little distraction from everyday life.
The remoteness and tranquility of the Central Coast also means there’s no need to worry about cabin fever. And with the colorful sunsets that bid the team farewell each day after practice, goalkeeper Merle Frohms says there isn’t a team they wouldn’t be ready to face off against. “We take everything that comes our way.”
This text has been adapted from English.