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Women's soccer: excelling at work and on the playing field

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Can you be a professional soccer player and hold down a full-time job at the same time? We spoke to Jessica Schärer, who plays for FC Rapperswil-Jona, about the day-to-day challenges of mixing work and sport. Read on for some great tips on striking the right balance.

Jessica Schärer's love affair with the Beautiful Game began in Goldach more than 14 years ago. Even before she first kicked a ball, the FC Rapperswil-Jona midfielder would often stand on the sidelines watching her dad play. In fact, her whole family have always been soccer crazy.

It's hardly surprising, then, that she started playing herself at the age of four and has been part of various teams such as FC St. Gallen-Staad and Grasshopper Club Zurich. It hasn't always been an easy ride. A torn cruciate ligament temporarily halted her soccer career, and she never got picked for the GC side after her recovery, so it was time to move on. That's how she ended up at FC Rapperswil-Jona, which at the time played in the second-tier National League B and was keen to earn its place in the AXA Women's Super League. Dropping down a level took some courage, but it paid off: together with her new team, she won promotion to the AXA Women's Super League – one of the greatest successes of her career.

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Is it possible to have both a job and a sporting career?

Jessica Schärer has to juggle her involvement in soccer with her full-time day job, just like all the other players in the top Swiss women's league. She works from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., four days a week, as a painter at the window manufacturer Vogel Fensterbauer AG, after which she has two hours to herself to catch up on housework or take a rest. She makes her way to the training ground at five o'clock, and her day doesn't finish until about ten-thirty. If she has a match coming up, she gets up even earlier to go out and exercise before breakfast and prepare for the full day ahead.

"It's definitely not easy to manage everything, but I get a lot of help from my employer."

Jessica Schärer, player of FC Rapperswil-Jona

Coping with this demanding routine requires a fair amount of willpower, organizational skill, and support. Jessica's employer supports her by giving her the flexibility and freedom she needs, whether it means coming into work late or going home early. 

Tips on striking a balance – even if you're not a soccer player

You need a lot of discipline and passion to find time for sport, work, friends, and everything else day to day. Here are Jessica's tips on "work/sports/life balance," which can still help even if you aren't a soccer player:

  • Finding the right balance for you takes time and patience.
  • Communication – e.g. with your employer – is important.
  • It's OK to ask for help.
  • Listen to yourself and your body, and take the time you need to rest and recuperate.
  • We should take care of our mental health as much as our physical wellbeing.

Making her mark in two male-dominated worlds

Both on and off the field, Jessica takes on roles that are still seen as predominantly male domains: soccer player and painter. "That's never been a problem for me," she says. On the one hand, more and more women are joining her profession. On the other, she played on boys' teams from an early age and always enjoyed a good rapport with her male teammates.

"I learned early on to stand up for myself and speak my mind when I wasn't happy with something – or even bang on the table once in a while."

Jessica Schärer, player of FC Rapperswil-Jona

Jessica wants to help girls who play soccer to learn from her experiences and attitude. The way may be hard, but you should keep your eyes on the prize, never doubt yourself, and fight to win.

Looking ahead to new adventures in women's soccer

Jessica has a clear goal for the future: she wants to go abroad and play professionally in Italy – not just because the women's game is on a better footing there, but also to enjoy new experiences and satisfy her thirst for adventure. However, her ambitions go even further than this. She believes that the sport has evolved in recent years, with the quality of play improving. "It would be great if we had more spectators coming to the matches. It would raise the public profile of women's soccer and benefit the players financially," she notes.

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