- Women’s Bundesliga’s Best Friends Day proved a big success
- Project’s aim is to attract young people to women’s football
- All twelve teams in the league were involved
As anyone who has experienced a big-match atmosphere in the flesh knows, it is simply sensational, regardless of whether you play the game in your spare time or just like watching it. After all, what brings us all together as one is our passion for football.
The German Football Association (DFB) is hoping to awaken that passion among young boys and girls who have never been to a football match, by joining forces with the 12 clubs in the Women’s Bundesliga to create Best Friends Day.
“As part of the women’s football campaign #NichtOhneMeineMädels (‘Not Without My Girls’), we have been proposing a number of different ways to encourage young people and anyone who doesn’t play the sport to take an interest in football and everything that supporting a team involves,” said Heike Ullrich, head of women’s football at the DFB. “That was how the whole idea of Best Friends Day came about.
“We presented that basic idea to the teams, but we didn’t want them to feel that they had to make an additional investment,” added Ullrich. “That’s why the first thing we did was put it to a vote to see if they all wanted to take part. If just one team had voted against it, I’m sure we wouldn’t have gone ahead with it.”
“I often read comments on our social media platforms from people who’d like to go but who don’t have anyone to go with,” said Sabrina Dirks, head of women’s football social media and communications at the DFB.
It is that very barrier that the Best Friends Day initiative is aiming to overcome. Boys and girls under 18 years old were able to sign up for the Best Friends Day, held on the third and fourth matchdays of the Women’s Bundesliga. Twelve matches were played, including the high-profile meeting between six-time Bundesliga champions FFC Turbine Potsdam and reigning champions Wolfsburg.
Admission to the stadiums was free on both days. The sign-up process was straightforward, the idea being to attract as many youngsters as possible, as Dirks explained: “We just asked them to give their names, confirm that they were under 18, tells us how many friends they were coming with, and which game they wanted to go to.
“It’s easier for them to go to the stadium because they can go together and share the experience with each other. That’s why we might just have come across a group of fans who will come not just once but on a regular basis and who will bring more fans with them.”
As well as getting in for free, participants in the initiative also received a goodie bag containing a shirt, a belt and other gifts. To add to the whole experience, teams were free to add something of their own to the goodie bags.
“The girls were so excited when they opened the bags. It was like Christmas Day for them,” said Beatrice Broeker, Eintracht Luneburg’s youth team coach.
The groundwork has been laid for Best Friends Day to happen again in the future, and the figure indicate that the inaugural day was a success. An additional 250 spectators saw Bayern Munich’s match thanks to the initiative.
“The response to Best Friends Day was really good,” said Ullrich. “We’ve had nothing but positive comments and we have every intention of continuing with it. We’re thinking of running the initiative again in the second half of the season and making it more of a regular occurrence. That will be decided in December, in collaboration with the clubs.”