Canadian women’s team star Sophie Schmidt is embarking on a new adventure, one that’ll benefit her career on both professional and national team levels.
The veteran midfielder has inked a contract with 1. FFC Frankfurt in the women’s Bundesliga through to June of 2016, making her the first Canadian to sign on with a defending European women’s champion—Frankfurt beat Paris Saint-German in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final this past May.
Canadian national team coach John Herdman has said Schmidt has the potential to become the best midfielder in the world, and this move will allow her to play for a top pro club and routinely test herself against some of the best players in the women’s game. Frankfurt club has been very successful over the years, winning the German women’s title on seven occasions and hoisting the German Cup a record nine times.
“I am delighted to be able to play immediately for the current Champions League winners, which is a great honour for me,” said Schmidt, a 27-year-old native of Abbotsford, B.C.
Schmidt, who has already practiced with the squad, will easily make the transition thanks to her fluency in German. It’s something Frankfurt coach Colin Bell calls a “great advantage,” both on and off the pitch.
This move to play overseas seems like a natural one for Schmidt, who most recently spent two years suiting up for Sky Blue of the National Women’s Soccer League. Schmidt finished second in scoring in their inaugural NWSL season with seven goals in 21 appearances. While the club didn’t win a championship in 2013 or 2014, she hit her maximum potential in the North American league, and needed a new challenge in order to further develop.
She often wore the captain’s arm band with Sky Blue and has recently seen expanded leadership duties with Canada’s national team, for whom she has 15 goals in 136 games (125 as a starter). During this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, she was the most experienced midfielder for Canada, given Diana Matheson’s injuries.
Schmidt was often the “go to” player for the media during scrums, press conferences and post-match availabilities throughout the tournament. As the women’s program goes through some crucial changes in the near future, Schmidt’s role will grow and this relocation overseas will certainly help her and the Reds.
Schmidt’s move will have her take part in meaningful matches more often, something she wouldn’t see in North America. On top of Frankfurt’s regular German league fixtures, they’ll also be playing UEFA Champions League and German Cup games. Schmidt can bring that “big game” experience and killer instinct to the national squad, something it’s trying to make part of its identity.
Desiree Scott, who plays for Notts County FC in England, recently took part in the FA Cup final. While Scott’s side lost to Chelsea, the chance to suit up in front of a record breaking 30,000 plus fans at the legendary Wembley Stadium is a once in a lifetime opportunity that’ll pay dividends down the road when she plays for Canada.
Schmidt will also grow playing alongside quality teammates from around the world. The Frankfurt roster includes Switzerland’s Ana-Maria Crnogorčević, Australia’s Emily van Egmond, along with Germans Simone Laudehr, Dzsenifer Marozsán, and long-time captain Kerstin Garefrekes. Schmidt faced off versus Crnogorčević at the recent World Cup and has met Germany in a number of friendlies over the years, but now, she’ll line up with them.
The regular season for Frankfurt opens Aug. 30, when they host SGS Essen.
Sandra Prusina is a Calgary-based writer. Follow her on Twitter