Annika graser and leonie kreil lend a hand

Save us who can. That’s the campaign FF USV jena is using to fight for survival. And in the middle of it all: two female soccer players from the district of bad kissingen who are under contract to the thuringian second division team. Annika graser moved to jena in 2014. She previously played soccer for her hometown club SV aura, TSV grobbardorf and ETSV wurzburg. Leonie kreil, who started her career at FC poppenroth, also moved to grobbardorf, later to the U-17 team of FC bayern munchen, and from there to ETSV wurzburg; and in 2016, as an 18-year-old, went to a college in the u.S. To fulfill her dream of playing professional soccer at the university of west florida. Both players were specially supported by dfb base coach peter ruckel and are regular players in jena.

For years, the club has been a good address for talented youngsters from franconia because of its proximity to the region. "Leonie came from the USA in the summer to find her feet in germany again. And annika is more or less a "homegrown", says press spokesman robert schmiedel about the 19-year-old, who will graduate from high school next year and then wants to go to university. Where, annika graser deliberately leaves this open. Instead, enjoy the days off before the start of training in january with the family on the franconian saale river. "What is happening at the moment naturally keeps you busy. This is about the existence of a club. In the meantime, this is also an affair of the heart", says the high school student who plays her sport on a semi-professional level.

In november, the board of directors informed the women’s soccer club, which has about 200 members, that it was about 100,000 euros short of funds that had to be raised by the end of the season. "In the 1. League, there were grants of 300,000 euros per season; as a second-division club, there are only 30,000 euros left.", says robert schmiedel. In addition, there are current demands from the employers’ liability insurance association, and a loan from a belgian inverstor in the amount of 100,000 euros is also listed under "liabilities" at. FF USV, an offshoot of the large university sports club with its focus on mass sports, had been playing in the national league for ten years without interruption before relegation became the trigger for financial problems. "But we are not giving up. And it’s nice to see how the cohesion of all those involved has grown. Our sponsors have also moved even closer to the club", says schmiedel, who receives an expense allowance as a press spokesman and will begin an apprenticeship with deutsche bahn in january. Without volunteer work, women’s soccer in jena would not be possible. An average of 300 spectators came to bundesliga games, now there are about 150.

All the more remarkable, then, how much the fans are also putting in the effort. 16,000 euros have been collected so far through a donation campaign. Even the elite teams of FFC frankfurt and turbine potsdam expressed their solidarity with the blue-and-whites. "Both clubs have given us signed jerseys for an auction. This alone has brought 2000 euros. All of this also drives you personally when you see that things are moving forward.", says schmiedel. But don’t hide the fact that the club only has a professional basis in the bundesliga because of the subsidies it receives. After a miserable start to the season, the club is now doing really well and is currently sixth in the table. In the last game before the winter break, we even managed a 3:2 victory over the top team from 1. FC saarbrucken. "Two clubs are promoted, but because the bundesliga reserves are not eligible for promotion, we are virtually third behind saarbrucken and 1. FC cologne", explains robert schmiedel.

As high achievers, annika graser and leonie kreil want to contribute to sporting success. Active help to get the club back on its feet financially as well. Mulled wine was sold at the christmas market and cakes at home games. Small gestures perhaps only. But doing nothing helps no one in jena. Campaign: about "gofundme.Com" you can support FF USV jena financially via the internet.

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