This South American footballing lady has become a firm favorite with fans at Turbine Potsdam, but she still can’t get used to the cold fronts
She is the first Brazilian in the German women’s football league and has mesmerized fans for nearly a year with her exotic temperament – Cristiane Rozeira de Souza Silva, or simply Cristiane, as she is known.
German league and cup champions Turbine Potsdam, located near Berlin, signed the 20-year-old player (born on 15 May 1985) in early 2005 in order to have "a left-footer with South American fire" on the team – according to Coach Bernd Schroeder.
Since then the top goal scorer at the Athens Olympics has become a firm favorite with fans even though she has been dogged by various injuries. Cristiane started kicking a football on the streets of her hometown at the age of seven and says the sport is her biggest passion.
And she feels at home in the capital of the German state of Brandenburg. "My best experience was scoring my first goal for Turbine," said the striker, who was born in Osasco near São Paulo.
But she has encountered problems too. "I had to get used to the new playing style, the new culture and also the cold weather." Cristiane sometimes thought about throwing in the towel. But that’s not a topic anymore. According to her coach though, "the climate still gives her lots of problems."
Many of the fans – an average of 1,000 of them attend games – come to be dazzled by the ball-handling skills of the young, attractive Brazilian.
"She often surprises her opponents with her football," said club president Guenter Baaske. "Cristiane doesn’t just bring color to the team, but also freshness and verve."
A couple more goals wouldn’t be a bad thing though. Cristiane has so far failed to live up to her coach’s expectations in that department. "Twelve goals in the league and cup are not enough."
Cristiane was expected to produce double that amount. The club’s management remains optimistic, commenting: "We hope that she’ll really blossom in the spring."
Cristiane has since gained a colleague with whom she can speak Portuguese. To keep the Brazilian international – who achieved her "biggest dream" by transferring to Europe – happy, Potsdam brought in a second Brazilian. Paula plays for Potsdam’s second team.
Cristiane, who says her biggest idol is Brazilian football star Ronaldo, helped Brazil to the silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. "But losing to the United States in the final was my worst defeat."
Schroeder remembered watching Cristiane on television from Athens and put some effort into signing her. "Of course in the back of my mind was the notion that an exotic player might attract more fans and it worked."
After arriving in Germany, the South American said: "We’re going to play in a more Brazilian way." Not that women’s football has much of a following in Cristiane’s native land. Schroeder explains:
"There isn’t even a league there. For international matches, the women are recruited from the football schools." And Cristiane was playing for Brazil’s U-19 team at the tender age of 15.
By contrast, the German women’s football league is considered one of the strongest in the world. Up to 10,000 fans come to the cup finals for German women’s football. While the salaries earned by the women athletes may be light years away from those awarded to the men, the quality of play is more comparable.
"Women’s football is considerably more appealing than men’s football. There not just tackling, the women use different techniques," said Potsdam president Baaske. Cristiane, whose Zodiac sign is Taurus, is a bullish champion as far as that is concerned. Everyone at Potsdam agrees with that.
dpa – German Press Agency