Sara Däbritz has played for all the German youth teams, and at 23 years old has already played over 50 games for the German national team. Of course the aim is 100 appearances, but that will come with time. However, the immediate task ahead, qualifying for the 2019 World Cup in France is more important, with games against Iceland (1st September, 16:55 CET) and against the Faroe Islands (4th September, 17:00 CET). The first step towards this starts today, commencing with a three-day training camp.
Sara Däbritz can still remember her Bundesliga debut. She made her debut for SC Freiburg in February 2012, in a crushing 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich. However, Däbritz has never been someone to get discouraged. She was only 16 at the time, but she already knew she wouldn’t lose every game 3-0. “We played a very good second half of the season” she recalls. After her debut, her form continued to improve, to the point where she was playing consistently well for the rest of the season.
Däbritz had to learn how to play at the highest level from an early age. She has over 50 appearances for the Germany national team even though she is still only 23 years old. The attacking midfielder is an example of how players can come through the ranks of the DFB training; she has played in all the junior teams, is in an U17 European and U20 world champion and now is an integral part of the women’s national team. This is what she has always dreamt of, even back when she was playing football on the streets with her neighbours at the age of five. She played on asphalt, which would regularly result in grazed knees. “It wasn’t bad! We tried scissor-kicks and bicycle kicks, but when you’re young, you have soft bones so none of us ever got any serious injuries.” Däbritz said while laughing. A few cuts and bruises of course, like the ones that sting in the shower or that your mum would have to put disinfectant on. But that never mattered to her. “It was an awesome time,” she said. Her mum never said: Girl, leave it, football is just for boys.
Her parents are football crazy, she explains and the time came where instead of playing on the streets, she started her career with SpVgg Ebermannsdorf, close to the city of Amberg. She became a D-junior champion with JSG Vilstal, with a goal difference of 122:1. She once scored eight goals in one game and was good as the other offensive players, even though she was the only girl in the match. When teams were chosen during training, her name was always the first to be picked. The boys could all play good football as there were some from the DFB base there too.
Her first coach once said, she enjoys her football, but has strong willpower and a never-say-die attitude. The 23-year-old laughed today when she heard about what her coach had said. “Football is my life and that has always been the case. I was most stubborn when we lost. I have never liked losing, not even in training,” she said. Apart from football though, she is never stubborn. “No one would have to make me go to training. I would look forward to it all day,” and her football crazy parents supported her to the best of their abilities. Once, when she moved to Weiden as a teenager, her parents took her everyday to training, even though it was half an hour drive each way. “I am always so thankful to them, they were so relaxed and always there for me - the perfect mix.
Little Sara, who played on the streets in Ebermannsdorf everyday with a different football kit, by the age of 20, was under contract at the club whose kits she had worn as a kid. “I am Bavarian and so naturally I am a fan of Bayern Munich,” she said. With the transfer from SC Freiburg to FC Bayern, a dream came true. “This is the team in my heart,” she said. On her debut, she scored twice in an emphatic 3-1 win over Turbine Potsdam. Since her Bundesliga debut, she has only kept improving.
Däbritz joined FC Bayern as a highly decorated youngster. She won the U17 European Championships as the captain in Switzerland, won the U20 World Cup in Canada in 2015 after scoring 5 goals, with a hat-trick against Brazil. By 2013, she was picked for the European Championships and was the youngest player in the squad. Even today she often talks to her teammates about her time at the youth tournaments; Lena Petermann, Lina Magull and Linda Dallman were already her teammates back then. As a teenager, while her friends started to go out at night or just chill out by lakes on the weekend, Däbritz never bothered with any of it. “I was never jealous of my friends, no chance. I always knew why I did it all, and yet I still always had enough time to spend with my friends”. She is still best friends with her childhood friends.
Her childhood friends always help her stay down-to-earth. The FC Bayern player also studies business psychology on the side. “It is good for the mind in women’s football to focus on something else other than football.” She said. “If you go through a bad run of form, it always helps to take your mind off football and then you can re-focus again on the football.”
Däbritz knows that there are highs and lows when you dedicate your life to football, having had some injury trouble during the first half of last season. After the European Championship, all the summers that she’d played without a break started to catch up with her. The attacking midfielder hasn’t missed a tournament since she was 16; there was no such thing as a summer without football. “I was overplayed and not feeling great” she admitted. That’s often how these things go, as soon as your head’s not in the game anymore, your body follows suit. Däbritz was out for six months with a torn ligament, but this time out did her a lot of good. “It was a good time to clear my head. Afterwards, I was more motivated, I felt like I was fit and raring to go. I’ve felt great again ever since winter.” This was definitely noticeable; the midfielder had a great second half of the season with both Bayern and the national team and scored several important goals.
Among others, Horst Hrubesch was one of the people who helped Däbritz. As interim coach of the national team, he had a big impact on all of the players. “He’s got such experience, and we’re all profiting from that. He gives a lot of tips and generally speaks with us a lot.” The goal for the national team is clear: “we have to win our final two World Cup qualifiers” says the 23-year-old, “if we can build on what we’ve already achieved, then that’s realistic, but only then can we start to talk about the World Cup.” Däbritz speaks well, but she doesn’t see herself as a leader. Of course, she wants to grow into this role, “but it’s a process that still needs some time.” She mostly takes things one step at a time, but the attacking midfielder also has a bigger goal: “to get 100 caps for my country, it’s what everyone dreams of.” At 23, and already half-way there, things are looking good.