Women's footballers on the ball with the German chancellor
© LOC

There was a very special kind of summit meeting on Thursday in the German chancellor's office. A high-ranking delegation from the German Football Association (DFB), including German women's coach Silvia Neid, OC President Steffi Jones and DFB vice-president Hannelore Ratzeburg, travelled to Berlin to personally present Angela Merkel with a calendar featuring photographs of the German women's international team. The calendar which was given to the chancellor, entitled Ballgefühl or "On the ball", has the serial number "1/2011" and is the first of a limited edition for 2011 – the same as the year in which Germany will host its first ever FIFA Women's World Cup. Each calendar is therefore personalised and individual.

"It is only fitting that the first edition of the calendar should be given to the country's first lady," said OC President Steffi Jones. "The calendar is also a token of our thanks for the incredible support which we have received both from the federal government and in particular from the chancellor as we prepare for the Women's World Cup 2011. At the end of the day it was Mrs Merkel who first gave us the idea of producing a calendar like this. She expressed the wish that football fans in Germany should know all the names of the women's international team by heart at the latest by the time the Women's World Cup 2011 comes around, in the same way that most people know the names of the men's players. These wonderful photographs and pen-pictures will make a real contribution in this respect." 

German chancellor Dr Angela Merkel thanked the DFB delegation, saying: "The calendar is of high quality, I like it very much. The photos are dynamic, aesthetic and at the same time give off a sense of enjoyment, making them the perfect embodiment of women's football."

"We too in the women's team could sense the real enthusiasm and genuine appreciation of the chancellor," said Germany coach Silvia Neid. "We felt very honoured that Mrs Merkel was one of the first people to congratulate us after we won the European Championship in Finland last year. She called us straight after the final whistle, which really delighted and impressed me."

 "It was the chancellor who at the meeting of the 256 DFB delegates in Leipzig back in 2005 – a year before the men's World Cup in 2006 – prompted us to apply to FIFA to host a Women's World Cup," stated Hannelore Ratzeburg, who is DFB vice-president in charge of girls and women's football. "This gave us the impetus we needed to win the bid, and also for the U-20 Women's World Cup which is taking place this year. This high-class tournament will give the world's best young players the chance to play against each other in Germany. We will be having a football World Cup right on our doorstep, beginning on 13 July, a mere two days after the men's Final in South Africa."

 German internationals Nadine Angerer and Kim Kulig, team manager Doris Fitschen and OC general coordinator Ulrich Wolter were also part of the DFB delegation.