The World According to Weimer: A Player Abroad

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By TIFFANY WEIMER

There has been a lot of easily accessible women’s soccer lately, which is awesome. Which, when I was growing up, was not a thing. At all. The U.S. women’s national team has been on ESPN, the Women’s EURO tournament has been on ESPN3 (which is cool for a tournament taking place overseas), and the NWSL has been airing on Lifetime this season.

Needless to say, I’ve been watching a ton of soccer lately, as I’m sure many people have been.

The game that intrigued me the most out of all of them so far was Denmark’s 2-1 win over Germany in the quarterfinals of the Women’s Euros.

Denmark has a population of about 5.7 million people. Germany’s population is about 82.6 million. When you think about these populations and think about the number of players playing soccer in each country, then narrow it down to female soccer players, it is impressive that a small country like Denmark can be so successful.

From 2012-13, I had the privilege of playing for one of the best teams in Denmark, Fortuna Hjørring. There are two teams in Denmark that consistently go to Champions League every year, Fortuna and Brøndby IF. Almost every player on the Danish national team has played for one of these two teams at one point in their career.

Our coach at Fortuna Hjørring, still the current coach, Brian Sorensen, has done a tremendous job of developing and grooming players, especially young players, for the national team.

Among them: Nadia Nadim, Maria Christensen, Pernile Harder, Sofie Junge Pedersen, Line Jensen, Frederikke Thogersen, Janni Arnth, Sanne Troelsgaard, Luna Gewitz and Sarah Hansen.

It’s likely no surprise to Sorensen that the Danes have done so well in this tournament.

“It’s great to see that many of the players I had and still have are doing well in the Euros,” said Sorensen. “I think it’s because of the training setup in the top clubs like Fortuna Hjørring and Brøndby. It’s so good that we still can develop players for the highest level. Also, if you look at UEFA Champions League Fortuna is seeded fifth and Brøndby is eighth this year.”

What he has also done well is pushed players out of their comfort zones and onto big teams in other leagues in recent years. Nadim is in the National Women’s Soccer League with the Portland Thorns, Jensen is with the Washington Spirit.

In Sweden, Arnth is with Linkoping, Junge Pedersen and Troelsgaard are with Rosengard. Harder is in Germany with Wolfsburg (after being named MVP of the Swedish Damallsvenskan last year), among others. This is big progress to have players at these clubs, and their success shows how well prepared they were.

In 2013 when I left Fortuna Hjørring to go play for the Portland Thorns, it was the first time I felt truly prepared to compete in a league in the U.S. (which I consider one of the most difficult leagues to play in in the world).

The Euros is an amazing tournament because many of the top teams in the world come from Europe and there just aren’t enough spots to see all these teams at the World Cup or the Olympics.

The Danes had a good round of World Cup appearances in the 1990s, but they haven’t qualified since 2007 when they were knocked out in the group stage after three losses.

So, for the past 10 years, they’ve had the Euros.

And now on Thursday they have an opportunity to do something only the men’s team has done in Denmark (1992 champions): Advance to the final.

Watch for the Danes to come through against a less experienced Austrian side and go through to the final for the first time in team history. I know who I’m rooting for.