Jenny Eickhoff from SV Werder Bremen
1. What do you like the most about working in football?
Football is a sport that unites people from all over the world, regardless of their nationality, gender, cultural background, religion or appearance. Working in football is great because the people who work here love the same thing and work passionately. The job is filled with a lot of emotion, which makes the work environment so unique. In addition, the working atmosphere is very intimate and familiarly. Formalities are much less important compared to other industries. More important is teamwork, enthusiasm, commitment and fairness – just like in a football team.
2. Was it difficult for you to make your way in football?
I have always been very passionate about football. Even before I could read, I played my first football game in a grassroots club nearby. As I got older and could not let go of this enthusiasm, I knew that I wanted to get involved in this field in the future. For this reason, I decided to study sports management. Through an internship as part of my studies, I got the chance to see the work at the football club Werder Bremen. After half a year, I got the offer to be employed in the same department. I have been here for two and a half years now. Looking back, I did not have much trouble to make my way in football and for that, I am very thankful.
3. Did you have any (female) role models when you were younger?
When I was younger, I wanted to kick as good as Birgit Prinz. I remember when I used to play soccer with the boys outside; I said I was Birgit Prinz. While the boys always wanted to be Ronaldinho. She was one of the most successful players in Germany and a great role model for women’s football.
As I got older, the number of role models grew, and I still admire them for their commitment in football. For example, Bibiana Steinhaus. She was the first female referee to lead a match in German men’s professional football. Another example is Claudia Neumann. She was the first woman to comment on a game of the European Championship live on German television. These women make me realise that women own a place in football, even if they face different struggles on the way there. Unfortunately, there are still too few visible role models at the head of clubs and associations. Women need women with whom they can identify.
4. Which advice would you give to a girl that would like to work in football?
Structures must change so women are promoted in football. Those in charge are responsible to invite change. For young women who want to get involved in football in different positions: do it! Connect and support each other. Focus on you professional competence and be confident.
5. What was the biggest challenge that you faced during your career?
As I am at the beginning of my professional career, I have not had to face big challenges yet. Nevertheless, I believe that gender inequality is one of the biggest challenges for the football industry. There is still gender pay inequality, gender inequality in sports media and gender inequality in leading positions and boards of the football clubs. Sports thrives on its diversity. However, this is not reflected in the decision-making bodies and media. The associations are responsible to drive forward change. Women should not feel limited in their careers in football just because they are women.
6. What are the biggest changes that you have recognised when it comes to Women in football?
Female football players obtain much more attention than a decade ago. They are more represented in TV and social media, they gain a bigger loan than and they have a bigger audience. Little by little, women are also represented in other professional positions in football. For example female referees, team managers, TV-presenters, or coaches. They are paving the way for the next generation of young women in football. It is exciting to watch female equality grow. However, there is still more work to be done.