Ramona Bachmann: "Like Living in a Dream World"
Ramona Bachmann is the women's 2015 Credit Suisse Player of the Year. We interviewed the 24-year-old prodigy on her remarkable season.
Congratulations on being selected as the 2015 Credit Suisse Women's Player of the Year. What does this award mean to you personally?
Ramona Bachmann: It is a great honor, and I see it as a sign that I did a good job last season. Without my teammates on the national team, though, I never would have achieved such results. So this award belongs to the whole team.
Do you remember your very first trophy?
Hmm, there were so many. It was probably a tournament trophy for the FC Malters U9 team. My father was a coach there, so I was allowed to play football with the boys when I was five.
What was the greatest moment of the past season?
When we qualified for the World Cup last fall. After winning our home game against Malta, the entire team was sitting in front of the TV watching the game between Denmark and Iceland. When it ended in a draw and it was certain we had won the group, we started dancing on the tables. And, of course: the World Cup itself – when our dream came true.
That was a historic first for women's football in Switzerland.
Absolutely. It was a whole new level of focus and structure. The atmosphere was tremendous in the stadiums and throughout the country. We felt like we were living in a dream world for those three weeks.
As soon as you returned from the World Cup you said: "There is still a great deal of disappointment." Has this now been outweighed by the pride you have in what you achieved?
We played well throughout the World Cup and reached our goal of playing in the round of 16. But I believe deep down, each of us knows: We had a bit more in us.
The assessment by Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, the national team's coach, was: "We were able to keep up with the best teams in terms of our playing style. But we still need to improve the physical side of things."
That's similar to how I see it. We could also improve in terms of anticipating and switching play.
Could the team have used a bit more quick-wittedness as well? During the unfortunate 0:1 defeat by Japan, there was a pivotal moment when you were ruthlessly attacked in the penalty box. Do you regret not having fallen to the ground to get a penalty kick?
There was no contact there. It just looked like there was on TV. If I had fallen down, it would have meant taking a dive. And since I had just been given a yellow card before that, I would have been sent off. But that wasn't an issue for me at the time, and it isn't now either. I want my good performance to be the overriding factor, rather than unsportsmanlike behavior. There are no prizes for diving.
I am committed to serving the team. The rest takes care of itself.
A great deal was expected of you in particular in the run up to the World Cup. Was it too much?
Not at all. As is often reported in the media, my pace and dribbling skills mean I can be the deciding factor in a game, so high expectations are certainly justified. But it's nonsense to read that I am carrying the whole team. Our team has a lot of key players.
Because of your solid playing, you also made it onto FIFA's All-Star Team of 23 players. On a scale of 1 to 10, how well did you perform in Canada based on your capabilities?
I would say 8. It was definitely a good World Cup. But I'm still not satisfied with my conversion rate, despite the hat-trick against Cameroon.
At the World Cup, John Herdman – the Canadian team's coach – said that you are: "the sort of player that I love to watch. She's the Messi of Switzerland and potentially the next Marta." Is that a compliment or a burden?
It provides additional motivation. After all, when I was 19, I said that I wanted to become the best female football player in the world.
Do you regret saying that now?
Not in the least. I am certain that I have the talent needed. But of course, it takes a lot of hard work and luck as well. I don't focus on that goal, though. Instead, I am committed to serving the team. The rest takes care of itself.
Did you feel at a loss after the big event?
The feeling of being at a loss actually started to creep in on the flight back. I was glad to have a two-week break at home in Switzerland before my club, Rosengård, started the new season in the Swedish league.
Were you inundated with offers after the World Cup?
I was contacted by several clubs, including some I think are the best in Europe. I’ve decided to move to VfL Wolfsburg, a very good and ambitious team. I want to use my talent to strengthen the squad and help Wolfsburg win titles.
After participating in this year's World Cup, Swiss women's football has seen a surge in popularity. Did you get a sense of this as a player?
We heard about it from our friends and relatives, and it helped boost our motivation. I really hope that over the long run, women's football is able to benefit from this in Switzerland, with more money invested and more professional structures.
What three tips would you give to girls who are dreaming of a professional career in football?
Have fun playing football. Practice more than the others. And practice with the ball as much as possible so you develop a good feel for the ball.
You're only 24, but you have already been a professional footballer for nine years now. Do you ever have difficulties staying motivated?
Not so far. Football makes me happy and there are so many dreams I have left. Like a Champions League victory. Or playing in the 2017 European Championship.
Switzerland is currently number 21 in the world rankings, and the team will face Italy (ranked 13), the Czech Republic (30), Northern Ireland (66), and Georgia (112) to qualify for the European Championship. Is qualifying merely a formality?
I would never put it like that. There are no easy matches and no easy opponents. But along with Italy, we're the favorites, of course. And, after playing in the World Cup, our goal needs to be participating in the European Championship.
It could prove to be more difficult to play in the 2016 Olympics. In the playoffs, Switzerland will be up against Sweden (7), Norway (10), and the Netherlands (12). Only the winner of the group will qualify.
It will be a tight group. But we have a good shot at it because we have made huge strides in the past three years and we are far from reaching our full potential. The Olympics – that would be so awesome!