Eintracht Frankfurt Project manager Lise Munk has proven to be successful both on and off the pitch.
During her playing career she was able to play in the UEFA Champions League, as well as appearing on her national team squad, now she is able to help countless people achieve their dreams in football.
We spoke with Lise to hear more on her inspirational career …
Where did your love for football come from?
I started playing football when I was four years old because my father was a coach and he wanted to bring me to practice.
I have two siblings who are both older than me, so I was used to keeping up with the big kids and running after them, I was always so active.
In the beginning I loved all sports. I played handball and hockey as well as football. But, I decided to carry on with football as that was the sport I found the most difficult – I really wanted to push myself.
Do you have any highlight moments from your playing career?
When I played my first match as a professional that was a proud moment because I had worked so hard to get there.
As a child when you are training you look up to the first team and dream to be like them. I played at a club where they had a first team in the best league in Denmark, so I could see that there were possibilities for women.
When I was growing up, I wasn’t able to name many players from the national team in Denmark, because the media attention wasn’t like it is now.
Do you think there are more role models for young girls in football now?
There definitely are and it’s such a good thing. I work with both girls and boys and they all know national players from the women’s and men’s teams.
This is the good thing about social media and the attention on football right now, everybody can access this information.
People need to be open minded as women’s football is becoming a lot more normal. In the future there will be even more.
If young people are thinking of playing football, would you encourage them to try?
Absolutely, with my job now we have a football school in Frankfurt with around 4,000 kids coming through our system every year.
We don’t do it for the high-level players, it’s for everybody and we try to teach the children that the most important thing is having fun. They never need to be the best, it’s more important for them to make good friends and grow as a person.
We also embrace different cultures, we have players from all over but on the pitch, everybody is the same.
Why is it important for women to feel represented in the world of sport?
It’s so important because we have to reflect our world as a whole, and half the population are women.
I don’t see any issues with women in higher positions, it’s good to always be open minded and learn from each other, as we can all benefit from that.
At the Women’s World Cup there are only female referees, and it’s cool that they have that possibility, but why don’t we mix the genders?
Referees should want to do it because their passionate about it, it shouldn’t matter if you’re male or female.
What do you think needs to happen to develop the women’s game further?
The attention is there for women’s football, but the problem is it is always higher during a tournament. Right now, while the World Cup is ongoing, there is a lot of attention, and everybody is able to read something about it.
We need to keep the attention high and that’s really difficult. It’s a job for the Federation to push it more.
Of course, it comes down to money, but in my opinion the investment needs to come before the results. There’s a market in women’s football now and companies are starting to see that.
It’s like women’s tennis in the 1970’s, they had to break through and since then nobody has questioned why female tennis players earn good wages, it’s equal and normal.
What was your experience like on the UEFA MIP course?
UEFA MIP was so cool, there were a lot of different people from different countries coming together, but we all had football in common and that was so inspiring.
It’s good to see other angles and views and courses like MIP let you see what people are seeing in football in Spain, or Germany for example. We had some really interesting discussion and I felt energised during the programme.
Then, you have new friends and a network of people that open possibilities you wouldn’t have known about before. I’m so happy that I did MIP and I would love to do it again in years to come when I have more experience.
What is the transition like from a playing career to a career off the pitch?
It´s a tough step. From one day to another you’re not Lise the football player anymore, and that the difficult point, because then you need to find your “new” personality.
As a football player your life is planned, I knew when training was and I knew where I had to be. I fit my life to the football schedule.
When I stopped playing, I enjoyed some months off, but then I had to start working. The question was: what do I want to do now, what’s my desire?
In the beginning I was thinking about being a sporting director or something in women´s football, but I am so happy with where I´ve landed right now.
I spend half my time on the pitch and half my time in the office, which is perfect for me now. The fact that I’m on the pitch so much made the transition easier for me, and I’m so grateful that I took this opportunity.
Do you have any advice for people who are reaching the end of their playing career and are looking for a career off the pitch?
I would say look at the network you already have from football and look for opportunities.
Think about what you’d like in the future and what you can imagine yourself doing. In my role when I start to work on a new project I love the challenge, as football players we are used to this.
You’ll already have such a big network, there’s always a partner, a sponsor or a coach that will have an idea for you to talk about. Use all the existing possibilities you have right in front of you.
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