Four time German champion and winner of the 1989 European Cup with the German National Team, Petra Landers brings a wealth of experience to our squad. She’s already broken one record by being in the first ever German women’s national football team in 1982 and here she tells us why she wants another record by climbing Mt Kilimanjaro with the Equal Playing Field squad.
If you want to support Petra break a world record and help her to continue to inspire girls around the world, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/petralanders
I was born in 1962, and grew up with my two sisters on a worker´s estate in Bochum, a city in western Germany. I discovered soccer when I was six years old. I played soccer on the streets and fields with the boys in the neighbourhood. My first team was all boys, I played there for two years. Looking back I realise that everything I did was a bit unusual for girls or women. I learnt crafts in the school with the boys instead of sewing with the girls, I played soccer with the boys instead doing gymnastic with the girls. Later on I did vocational training as motor mechanic.
But even in Germany, it wasn’t socially acceptable for us to play for a very long time. The German Football Association banned girls and women’s soccer until 1970. Even my own boss tried to stop me from representing my country in the European Championships in 1989. I tried to take holiday to play — but he blocked my request. It was only when I threatened to quit my job that he let me go. And soon after we were crowned European Champions!
This was the first time the German national women’s team won the European Cup. And do you know what we were awarded by the German Football Association? A coffee set.
Now whenever I meet girls or women who want to play soccer, I do what I can to support and motivate them. I used to focus on supporting girls in Germany to play soccer, but these days I support girls and women in Zambia. Through soccer their self-esteem grows, and that helps to improve their role in society.
In my opinion, equality brings self-esteem, freedom and respect. That’s why I try to support women and girls to fight for equality and I do that through sport.
When I played professionally there were days when the pressure was almost too much and it threatened to roll into my personal life too. But that’s when I thought — just one more round, I can do this. Fight for you, fight for the team, for family. Be strong and go forward. I am a fighter, in sport and in life.
To sponsor Petra, and help get her up the mountain — please go to https://www.gofundme.com/petralanders