Since the men’s professional clubs finally discovered women’s football, SGS Essen can feel like a remnant of bygone times. However, as an extremely innovative and successful one.

Coach Markus Högner’s team is the last all-women’s club to play in the Bundesliga – and is now challenging record winners VfL Wolfsburg in their stadium in the DFB Cup semi-finals. “It will be a huge challenge, but we still expect opportunities. We have to act with total courage,” says Högner, who is highly respected in the industry.

The club’s unusual path from the Essen suburb of Schönebeck is even worth a multi-part documentary on the pay-TV channel Sky. Title: “Alone against everyone – the SGS Essen, talent factory for women’s football.” The highlight could be filmed on May 9th in Cologne at the cup final – if the SGS manages a surprise in Wolfsburg this Saturday (1 p.m./Sky).

Comrade Turbine Potsdam says goodbye

Food is, of course, an outsider. The VfL women have recently won the cup nine times in a row, but still have to overcome the bitter 4-0 defeat against FC Bayern last weekend. In the second semi-final, Bundesliga leaders Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt will meet on Sunday (3:45 p.m./Sky and ARD).

Essen was already a cup finalist in 2014 and 2020. Most recently, the Högner team only failed in the penalty shootout against Wolfsburg in Cologne. SGS Essen has made a name for itself primarily by producing current national players such as Lena Oberdorf, Marina Hegering, Lea Schüller, Nicole Anyomi and Linda Dallmann.

In the league, Essen is once again doing better than expected as sixth in the table. Last year, Turbine Potsdam disappeared after many titles in the 2nd league – the increasingly financially strong competition had become too powerful for the traditional and also all-women’s club. “The differences are getting bigger and bigger,” confirms Essen’s managing director Florian Zeutschler on Sky and describes the SGS as the last club “that has no name in men’s football.”

Coaching team as improvers of talent

Nevertheless, Essen has been first class for 20 years – and a training club in the very best sense. “If we work meticulously, I believe we can continue to play a role,” says Högner. The 55-year-old has been in Essen since 2010, although he was assistant coach of the national team and in Wolfsburg. “Thanks to our current unique selling point in the league, we are getting a lot of positive attention,” explains Högner. “It is recognized everywhere that with our means we manage to keep up at this level and even improve. This great interest then of course helps us in the further development of the club.”

Even though the SGS repeatedly has to give up top talents like the current Wolfsburg national striker Vivien Endemann last year, it manages to make up for this with talent from the youth department with a sports boarding school. Högner and his assistant Robert Augustin are also considered unusual improvers in the industry.

The fact that young players can develop in this way is “not possible at any other club,” says SGS captain Jaqueline Meißner (30). With an average age of 23, their team is the youngest in the league. Like Lena Ostermeier, Meißner is one of the veterans of the cup semi-finalists – and is not only successful in the stadium on Hafenstrasse: The 27-year-old Ostermeier completed her chemistry studies at the TU Dortmund University last summer and has since held a doctorate. “It’s family and professional at the same time,” she says about the Bundesliga club. “At SGS you also get the freedom to build a foothold outside of football.”