The 27-year-old Viktoria Schnaderbeck has been with Bayern for more than a decade. Photo: Vincent Jannink/EPA

JOHANNESBURG – Austria and Bayern Munich defender Viktoria Schnaderbeck advised women from countries whose leagues aren’t so strong to step out of their comfort zone if they are to make it big in football.

The 27-year-old, who has been with Bayern for more than a decade, left Austria as a 16-year-old for a more competitive environment so that she could grow as a player as she found the competition too easy in her native land. 

But her advantage, as a European, was that she could easily move around in the region while women’s football in Austria is structured better than any African league and the foundation of her development as a player was already laid.

What South African players struggle with in their ambition to go abroad is not being consistently exposed to the bigger leagues. Despite that, there are a number of locals making their way abroad. 

Houston Dash in the USA has Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk, Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana in their squad. The trio joined Jermaine Seoposenwe, Kaylin Swart and Amogelang Motau who also ply their trade in the USA.

“You have to be confident in your ability, first and foremost to make it from a not-so competitive league to one of the best leagues in the world,” Schnaderbeck said at FC Bayern Campus in Munich which houses the Bavarian giants’ junior and women’s teams." 

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“You must set dreams that you want to achieve and really work towards achieving that. You have to work hard and be willing to make a change in your life by stepping out of your comfort zone.”

Schnaderbeck aims to help a number of girls with their dreams through her role as ambassador of Jambo Bukoba, a non-profit organisation in Tanzania that seeks to improve girls’ lives through sport and education. Schnaderbeck argues that if more clubs adopted women’s teams, the standardwould improve.

“Things at Bayern are really professional,” Schnaderbeck said. “We have great facilities. It’s something that some teams can only dream about. This is a step in the right direction which is why we are able to work professionally in everything we do.”

The Star

* Njabulo Ngidi was in Germany courtesy of StarSat.