Goalkeeper on frustration and respect: “the girls are often overwhelmed”.

As goalkeeper for VfL Sindelfingen, Simone Holder has already conceded 110 goals. The performance gap in the Bundesliga is too great, she says.

Simone Holder holds a ball against Frankfurt. The game went 0:8. Image: imago/Hartenfelser

site: Ms. Holder, you wouldn’t wish such a season on any goalkeeper. You have conceded 110 goals so far at VfL Sindelfingen. Your team has been relegated for a long time. How much do you long for the summer break?

Simone Holder: Personally, I’m really looking forward to it, to finally be able to put a tick on this season. I think my teammates feel the same way, because apart from experience, we unfortunately can’t take much with us.

How do you motivate yourself for the upcoming game? On Sunday, you play against Bayer Leverkusen. Do you want to win or concede as few goals as possible?

In principle, of course, every athlete wants to win. But for us, the result is no longer the main focus. We get clear instructions from the coaching team before the game, and the main thing is to develop further. We’re always trying to take a step forward, both tactically and in terms of play. I try to tell my teammates that with every new opponent comes a new opportunity, and even after we’re officially relegated, we want to present ourselves well and say goodbye properly.

What is the mood like within the team?

Because of our position in the table and the many goals we’ve conceded, it’s naturally rather poor. On the other hand, we stick together during training and off the pitch.

You occupy a special position within the team because of your playing position and experience. With such inferiority to the competition, how can you make your influence felt at all?

That’s more difficult with every defeat. I see my job primarily as making sure we keep our heads up and don’t lose our cohesion.

25, started playing soccer at the age of nine. The goalkeeper made her Bundesliga debut with VfL Sindelfingen in the summer of 2012. After this season, she wants to concentrate on her job as an operating theater assistant in cardiac surgery.

How often were you close to despair?

Of course it’s frustrating sometimes because I can only observe a lot of things, but that’s just the lot of a goalkeeper. However, you can’t blame the girls because they are often overtaxed in this league. Many are only 16, 17 years old and have a huge respect for their opponents. You just have to remain patient.

Before the season, you were considering leaving the club. Do you regret your decision to stay?

No. I don’t worry about whether the decision was good or bad. I made the decision before the season and, despite the worst season of my career, I wouldn’t say I regret anything.

What experience will you take away from two seasons in the First Women’s Bundesliga?

It was a great experience for me to play in front of such a crowd and to see what kind of soccer you can play in Germany at all. Especially the way the opposing fans treated our team was very respectful. But maybe that’s also because we’re not a title contender in Sindelfingen, of course.

Does this respectful treatment also apply to the opposing teams?

I don’t think we are seen as an equal opponent. But after the game, every team and every player showed fairness. There was a handshake.

There are always voices criticizing that clubs that are not competitive – like VfL Sindelfingen this season – do not belong in the First Bundesliga. The disparity, they say, is too great. How do you see that?

Basically the same. Even if it doesn’t really hurt the league’s image, clubs have to be competitive in the world’s best league if we want to continue to promote women’s soccer. We’re certainly not a poster child, but ultimately it’s also a question of the financial possibilities of the clubs. And Sindelfingen simply can’t keep up.

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