I think that this is great for my CV and it will help me for my career after football.Marisa Ewers
From kicking a ball about with her cousins aged eight to moving to England to play for Blues Women as well as completing a Masters degree in a foreign language while juggling a career in the FA Women’s Super League; gritty, determined and self-assured German midfielder Marisa Ewers’ hard work on and off the pitch shines through.
As her family put a ball to her feet, Ewers hasn’t looked back since and she is relishing the opportunity of playing in a different country to the one that she grew up in.
But if it wasn’t for her cousins’ getting her out onto a field, life could have been completely different for the midfielder.
She said: “When I was eight I started playing for my local team, but my cousins always took me outside and played with me, so they are kind of responsible for that [getting me into football]. That’s why I came to football because they love it and they trained me and everything.”
When she signed her first professional contract with her hometown club Hamburger SV, Ewers never believed that she would reach the level of football she is playing at today 12 years later.
She said: “In 2006 I joined the professional team at Hamburger SV, so it’s been over 11 years now.
“I didn’t expect to be at that level. It was a great journey and playing for the youth national team for Germany was a great experience as well. That was something that you look back on and think ‘oh yeah, you reached that and that helped you to develop as a player.’ Especially going abroad made a difference I think, and it makes you grow as a player as well as a person.”
At international level, Ewers has played at every level for her country up to the Under-23s but is still looking for her first senior appearance.
But at club, following a six-year spell with Hamburger SV the club announced its disestablishment of the women’s team and the midfielder went on to join Bayer Leverkusen, where she was their club captain for two seasons.
She made the switch to Blues Women in 2016 under Dave Parker and has now established herself as a regular. At the time, she was labelled “one of the most consistent performers in the Bundesliga for the past eight seasons” by former manager Parker.
However, she says that she did not find it difficult to settle in at the club as her team mates were so welcoming when she arrived despite moving to a foreign country and having to speak in a completely different language.
At the time, her fellow countrywomen Bella Linden and Ann-Katrin Berger were here to offer guidance and support in a language that she understood and a friendship with Andrine Hegerberg that helped her settle into life in Birmingham.
“No [I didn’t struggle to settle in], not really actually. Obviously, I was quite excited to see how the league is, how it is to live in England – it’s a new culture, new people but the team are great. They’re really lovely and they had open arms which made it easy.
“When I came over there was also Andi [Andrine Hegerberg] and Bella Linden but to be fair it’s been more than two years and I get on with all the girls so easy here. But it was good to have Ann [Katrin-Berger] here too.
“The team environment helps a lot to settle in and to feel comfortable and to feel welcomed.”
Having to get to know a new team is one thing but moving away is another and Ewers has had to get used to a different culture. However, she said that the people are completely unlike the ones you come across in Germany as they don’t take anything too seriously.
She said: “It’s been lovely actually because I love the English culture. People are very polite over here and they’re funny. They don’t take each other too seriously so I appreciate that, and I appreciate the whole experience.”
Although Ewers didn’t find it too hard to settle in at Blues, the 29-year-old still misses her family and will spend as much of her free time, as possible, flying back to be with them.
Ewers said: “Of course, when we get days off I can’t wait to go home and see them. Or they actually come over to watch games if they can and Christmas and summer is obviously the time when you can spend more days with your family. Family is quite important for me.”
When her family come to watch her play, Ewers noted that there are some differences to the football that you see in England compared to Germany. Yet here at Birmingham, the midfielder enjoys the way the team plays.
She also feels like she joined at just the right time two years ago, as women’s football is most certainly on the rise in England.
She said: “In Germany, I feel like we loved to keep possession but sometimes it could go forward more quickly, and I like the fact that over here [in England] as soon as you win the ball, you look forward.
“But in our team, I love that we like to keep possession and that’s a great way of playing out with the possession we have of the ball. That’s quite important because that helps the team to show a good performance and get results.
“I think women’s football is growing in England a lot and that’s what I missed in Germany a little bit to be fair.
“In Germany, it has been developed but it’s good and exciting to see it over here how women’s football is growing and that teams put loads of effort into the women’s sides. The men’s side supports women’s football now and everything is more professional so it’s a great time to be in England right now.”
Off the pitch, Marisa has been juggling studying for a Masters degree in Sport Management which she finally completed at the beginning of this season. She graduated from Birkbeck, University of London which meant that she had to travel into the city during the week whilst continuing to train with Blues.
She said: “The last year has been quite stressful because I had to travel down to London two or three times a week for two sessions a day but now I’m so relieved because that was hard work. But now I can look back and say ‘yeah you actually have a Masters degree in a different language’ and I think that this is great for my CV and it will help me for my career after football.
“I love to have something else other than football and I love to challenge myself in a different way. But also to prepare myself for life after football.”