A CATch up with Natasha Kowalski
and Sophia Winkler from SGS Essen

"Have big dreams, hold on to them and give it your all."

May 9, 2024

"Have big dreams, hold on to them and give it your all."

May 9, 2024

Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Natasha Kowalski and Sophia Winkler, two professional football players from SGS Essen, and chatted about their journey into football, their favourite memories, rituals, and their thoughts on the increasing professionalisation and media presence of women’s football. Read on and get to know these young members of our PUMAFam!

CATch Up: How did you both get into football?

Natasha: I have four older brothers who all played football. My mom always said that if I wanted to play with my brothers, I had to play football.

Sophia: I have an older brother who has also always played football. If I wanted to play something with him, it was just football. At some point, he joined the club and that’s where I wanted to go too.

CATch Up: What is your favorite memory of your youth playing days?

Sophia: My classmates were in a club, that’s where I started and we were always in a group of three, me with two friends. We felt much younger than the rest of the team, but the three of us just did our thing – that’s my favorite memory. But also, what Natasha said, you were so much more uninhibited and free as a child.

Natasha: Definitely how much fun we had! When I think of playing football as a kid, I see myself running around the pitch in this jersey that’s way too big and just having fun kicking the ball around, so uninhibited and all that mattered was the fun of the game.


CATch Up: When did you know that you wanted to play football professionally?

Natasha: My dream was always to become a football player, of course. But I think it was when I was 14 or 15 that I thought, okay, if I really put my foot down now, I could make it. Before that, I always said to myself: “Come on, I’ll see, I’ll just kick and do my best and see how far I can get.”

Sophia: For me, it was actually a bit later. I never really had this dream of becoming a professional footballer as a child. I just played because I had fun. Even when I switched to Essen when I was 15 or so, I didn’t actually have the idea of becoming a professional in my head. That only came about when I started training with the first team, and then of course the goal and the dream of making it as a pro came about.


CATch Up: Do you have certain rituals that you go through before every game as a team or individually?

Sophia: Personally, I always listen to my music before the game, that’s my ritual. And I have my right glove, which I always put on first. As a team, we always have the same playlist that we play and we do our circle before the games.

Natasha: I always go onto the pitch with my right foot first. I always listen to the same songs before the game. And I have a song that I always listen to to calm down a bit and that helps with the nervousness. It’s my parents’ wedding song.


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A post shared by Sophia Winkler (@sophiawnklr)

CATch Up: In your opinion, how has the increasing professionalization and media presence of women’s football affected the perception and career opportunities for female players?

Natasha: I would say very much. In the last year in particular, I’ve noticed a lot of this boom, more fans are coming to the games, we have more support. And I think it’s just super cool for young girls to have female role models in football now.

I always had men to look up to – watching Ronaldo trick videos or something – but now there are also successful women in football to look up to.

Sophia: I think another big point is the career opportunities. People used to know that you couldn’t earn any money in women’s football. But the situation in women’s football is currently improving and it offers prospects for young girls – so young players are more likely to stick with it if they know that you can earn money as a woman in football and make a living from it too.

CATch Up: And where do you still see room for improvement? What would you like to see for women in football?

Both: Visibility!

Sophia: Our games are shown less on free TV or only when the men’s games aren’t on and there’s also less coverage of our games on the Sportschau etc. I still see room for improvement there.

Natasha: Yes, I think so too. Visibility is definitely a big issue. I know that from my friends, people ask when we’re playing – and then the games are only shown on streaming services that people don’t have and don’t subscribe to “just” for us. So, more visibility and presence for the public in general.

On the PUMA Bridge

Learning our history

CATching up

during our Interview

CATch Up: Do you personally play with women’s fit football boots? What do you particularly like about them?

Natasha: Yes, we do. I think it’s very cool. I have the feeling that the shoes fit my feet much better than before.

Sophia: Yes, I would also say the fit. I think it’s cool that you pay attention to our needs and respond to them!


CATch Up: What would a perfect shoe have to have if you could design one yourself?

Sophia: Definitely a really good fit. That’s actually the most important thing. I personally prefer a thinner material, it gives me a better feel for the ball. Good grip is of course particularly important to me as a goalkeeper so that I don’t slip.

Natasha: I prefer the slightly thicker material but I also like it when I have a good fit in the shoe. And I prefer to wear eye-catching shoes, I like that PUMAs are so colorful and not boring!


CATch Up: What advice would you give to little girls who want to get started in football?

Sophia: Just go and have fun! Just play football, I would say, don’t think too much and play with an open mind. Don’t put any pressure on yourself and do what you do best! Have fun, just kick and stay hungry!

Natasha: I would say: dreams are important! Nobody can take them away from you, no matter how big they are. Have big dreams, hold on to them and give it your all.

Thank you very much for your time, Natasha and Sophia, and all the best for the future!

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