Borussia Dortmund started a new chapter this past weekend when their women’s team played its first match ever. The new chapter comes after years of criticism of Dortmund for being one of the last major European clubs without a women’s side.
A change to this status was decided last September when Dortmund announced their plans to create a women’s program. Unlike other major clubs such as Real Madrid, Eintracht Frankfurt and Manchester United, whose women’s teams are also new with less than four years of existence, Borussia Dortmund have decided to take a different route in their women’s team’s development.
Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt chose to buy already existing independent women’s clubs, Club Deportivo Tacón and 1.FFC Frankfurt respectively. These two clubs were already competing in the Spanish and German women’s top flight of football. After both clubs were purchased and integrated, Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt were able to rebrand and rename the women’s sides and avoid the need to get to the top by promotion.
Manchester United for their part were given a special disposition by the English FA to skip promotion and enter directly into the FA Women’s Championship, the second flight of women’s football. After a year of competition they finished first and won promotion into the FA Women’s Super League, the English women’s top flight.
Borussia Dortmund however did not go with either of these routes. Instead they created a team from scratch with the intention of getting to the top flight of the German pyramid, the Frauen Bundesliga, through promotion. Their new women’s team therefore plays in the eight division of German women’s competitive football.
When explaining the reasoning for not trying to obtain or purchase a quicker way to the highest ranks of German women’s football, managing director Carsten Cramer stated that Borussia Dortmund planned to approach the women’s department with great ambition, but not look to achieve their goals at the expense of other clubs in the region.
Starting this year, in the regional Kreisliga B, they have set the aim to make it to the Frauen Bundesliga within the next decade. The route there should be an interesting one for fans of the club as it will require an almost continual annual winning of each division.
Constructing a squad that is good enough for continual promotion, but obviously not made of talent that could otherwise play in much higher divisions, will not be easy. Arguably the rotation and upgrading of players as the team gets promoted, should they accomplish their decade long objective, will take proper planning, scouting and oversight.
To oversee this Borussia Dortmund have appointed Svenja Schlenker as the head of the department for women’s football. She will work with Olympic Gold medalist and World Cup winner Annike Krahn, who serves as a consultant. Thomas Sulewski is the women’s team’s first head coach. Prior to this past weekend’s game, Sulewski had had two weeks of practice with his new 23 player squad.
Frauen Borussia Dortmund’s first ever competitive match took place against TSV 1860 Munich on Sunday. The pre-season friendly was sold out and played in front of 1300 supporters. They won the game 3-1.
Dortmund has now started their decade long ambition of continual promotion in women’s football. For fans of the club, the road to the Frauen-Bundesliga should be an interesting journey.