Alba Berlin women’s basketball: rise without haste

Basketball players from Alba Berlin

Get up without haste

Fri 29.10.21 | 09:10 | Of Lynn Kraemer

Picture: Philip Sommer

Two years ago, Alba Berlin announced that women should become more visible in the club. It will probably be some time before promotion to the women’s Bundesliga. But it plays a rather minor role for Alba Berlin. By Lynn Kraemer

When you talk about basketball in Germany, it’s usually about BBL, the men’s national basketball league. When it comes to basketball in Berlin, it’s mostly about Alba Berlin and the professionals around Maodo Lo and Luke Sikma. Another team and a league go under. For Alba Berlin also has a team playing in the 2nd DBBL Nord, the second women’s basketball league. The players are Lucy Reuss, Lena Gohlisch and Valeria Aleksieva. The Berlin club wants them to be known too.

No break entertainment

“At our home matches, the impression was created that women in Alba are primarily responsible for dancing during the breaks, while men play basketball,” Alba’s CEO Marco Baldi admitted ahead of the 2019/2020 season. After 25 years, the club decided to do without the cheerleaders during the breaks in the game. At the same time, the Berliners planned to promote women’s and girls’ basketball more. “We addressed the situation because we believe it is important for us as a society to invest in and value women’s sports,” explained Sports Director Himar Ojeda in retrospect. Alba Dancers is now training for championships. And: Alba’s women’s basketball department was already the largest in Germany two years ago – and continues to grow.

“The fact that such a big club comes with a public statement obviously gives you momentum,” said Lucy Reuss, who is already playing for Alba Berlin in his eighth season. In women’s sports, it is often the case that such small things and changes are not so obviously noticeable. And it was not just the public statement: “It was clearly communicated in the club that women now have a different status. It was set as a rule and one could feel.”

Deeper appreciation

On the one hand, there are very obvious changes, such as the Alba website with individual overview pages for men and women, regular game reports or a clothing line for the female athletes. There are also internal team events with both professional teams, a dedicated team doctor and professional team photos. “I remember in the beginning, when I played for Alba, the women even had to pay dues,” said Lucy Reuss. Players now have contracts or receive expense reimbursements.

However, Reuss cannot make a living from it. She is studying law in the seventh semester. In addition, the 24-year-old works seven to ten hours a week in a law firm: “For me, it is a triple burden of work, university and sports. It would of course be nice if it could result in a double burden and in the long run. also a perspective as a professional athlete. ” But money is not the main motivation for her: “We come because we want to play.” At the same time, she wants to be a role model for the young girls: They could look at her and other players, how high-class basketball and a degree can work together.

No spontaneous rain of money from BBL

Theoretically, Alba Berlin could pump a lot of money into the women’s team from one season to the next and buy into the first division with top players. An even bigger flagship in basketball Germany. But the club does not want that. “We do not just want to spend the money we generate with BBL professionals. We do not want a women’s team with a big budget,” said Sports Director Himar Ojeda. Instead, the team must be built sustainably.

Unlike football, there is little overlap between the professional women’s and men’s basketball teams and the clubs behind them in the first and second leagues. Alba Berlin almost falls out of the queue. The BBL clubs should not try to displace the existing clubs with their own women’s teams, but to strengthen women’s basketball, says Himar Ojeda: “We must all work together as a community and create more awareness about women’s teams and women’s sports.” DBBL must grow by itself.

Get more girls interested in basketball

“We want to create more opportunities for the girls and get more girls into the club,” says Ojeda. The big goal is to expand basketball in Berlin’s schools and to have girls ‘teams of all ages: “We believe that there is still more room for girls’ teams and that we can create a great basis for girls to play basketball.” In the long run, more girls would switch to the professional team.

The women should play in the first division in the future. Alba Berlin has not had a fixed schedule. The club wants to deserve to play there. “We are not where we expected, but it is because of the pandemic that has slowed everything down,” said Himar Ojeda. The game was put on hiatus last season. “I’m happy because we managed to integrate many of the juniors on the first team,” said the sporting director. For Alba player Lucy Reuss, the focus is therefore on “that we first get the best out of the team itself.”

Soon also in front of an audience that is not allowed in the hall at the moment: “We have already been asked a lot by the young players when they are allowed to see us.” The interplay between female role models and young actors should ultimately grow in the long run.

Broadcast: rbb UM6, October 28, 2021, at. 18.00

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