Germany set to make friends again

When exclusively caught up with Birgit Prinz at the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007 and asked if she intended to go in search of goals at the next global showdown in the women's game, she answered that it all depended on whether the 2011 finals were awarded to her home country. That condition has now been met, and Germany is again in a state of fevered expectation. As a wave of enthusiasm sparked by the events of the summer of 2006 continues to roll, the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year appears more than likely to spearhead her team's assault on a third FIFA World Cup triumph on the bounce.

"We're proud and grateful to host the FIFA Women's World Cup after the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Germany, the country, its people, government, the world of sport and our association are all looking forward to the event," declared German Football Association (DFB) President Dr. Theo Zwanziger. A powerful backer and promoter of the women's game, Zwanziger was a suitably beaming presence when the host nation was announced at the Home of FIFA in Zurich on 30 October.

Warm welcome in family surroundings

Those who experienced the boundless passion unleashed in Germany by the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ will never forget the wonderfully spontaneous and unprompted celebrations between fans from differing cultures and mentalities. Come 2011 it will be "Time to make freinds" again as a new generation in Germany demonstrates to the world that shows of emotion, openness and warmth are deeply ingrained in the country which has produced three men's and two women's World Cup-winning teams.

Germany is now gearing up for a massive reunion of friends, although the tenor of the event will be a little different. "You shouldn't compare women's and men's football. It'll definitely be a more family-oriented World Cup. We now have four years in which to get everything ready," a visibly excited Zwanziger commented. "It's a great chance for women's football to continue its development path around the world. We intend to make use of this chance. We'll tackle the challenge together and we're looking forward to it. Politics, society and the media will certainly pull together on this. Our schools will again join in the build-up. It will provide a massive boost, and the development of women's football will definitely proceed more rapidly than it would have done without the World Cup. Finally, we'll use football to support the process of integration."

"A different dimension"
A new set of German cities will take the spotlight this time. Alongside capital city Berlin and the hub of German women's football in Frankfurt, smaller cities will provide the venues: Augsburg, Bielefeld, Bochum, Dresden, Essen, Leverkusen, Magdeburg, Monchengladbach, Sinsheim and Wolfsburg are the current candidates. "Obviously it's a different dimension," Zwanziger acknowledged. The number of venues will ultimately depend on the size of the starting field at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011.

"Naturally, our goal is to fill the stadiums, so we'll need plenty of community-based concepts and programmes, focusing on schools and other institutions," the DFB President was quoted as saying by news agency sid. In the light of the dramatic increase in support for the women's game in Germany in recent years, that goal seems thoroughly realistic.

The dream goes on
Breathtaking images of the euphoric reception accorded the triumphant two-time world champions on their return from China are still fresh in the memory of local football fans. Some 20,000 gathered in Frankfurt's Romer Square to greet Birgit Prinz, Nadine Angerer and Co. in early October. Coach Silvia Neid's squad had both realised a dream and prompted a vision which now illuminates the next four years, both for the triumphant Germans and players from every other nation.

"The women's game is on the up," Prinz exclusively told during the thrilling FIFA Women's World Cup in China. The iconic striker is right: the women's game is on a roll and booming as never before. Germany is delighted at the opportunity to contribute another giant stride to the process, but up until then, the nation will continue to puzzle whether its greatest player will continue to go in search of goals in four years' time, or prefer to play a significant behind-the-scenes role in welcoming friends back to Germany.