“Being surrounded by
support is what gives
me courage”

Journalist: Editorial team ceo magazine | Photographer: www.foto-shooting.ch | Magazine: La confiance est source de courage – Octobre 2022

Her career as a professional football player has been crowned by many successes. In her new role as general manager of GC Women, Lara Dickenmann wishes not only to help her own club reach new heights, but also to strengthen women’s football in Switzerland overall. That calls for innovation, investment, and – last but not least – courage.

Her office at the GC campus in Niederhasli is just about ready for her to move into. And there are other ways in which, after nearly a year, Lara Dickenmann seems to have settled slowly but surely into her new position as general manager of the women’s section of the GC. When this record-breaking Swiss national player was offered the job after retiring from the professional game last year, she hesitated at first. “When you think of successful Swiss women’s football, GC Women isn’t necessarily the club that springs to mind. Plus it’s a bit chaotic,” she adds with a grin. In spite of this, or maybe precisely because of it, she saw enormous potential: “Swiss women’s football is something that’s really close to my heart. We’re lagging behind other European countries. There’s a lot to do and I’d like to use my experience to build up something amazing.”

Pioneer in Swiss football

Lara Dickenmann’s experience on the pitch is truly impressive: she is Switzerland’s most successful female footballer. No other player has had a greater impact on women’s football in this country. She was named Switzerland’s Player of the Year in the women’s category an impressive eight times. When Lara Dickenmann announced her retirement from the Swiss national squad in 2019, she was a record-setting national player and top scorer.

Team-building phase

Switching from the football pitch to a desk job was a challenge. Lara Dickenmann, originally from Kriens, suddenly found herself heading up a business and having to manage a budget. That was a courageous step since she didn’t have any management experience she could draw on. She remained in Wolfsburg, commuted or handled matters either by phone or in virtual meetings. “People normally have to gradually work their way up to the position I now have. Some days are really good and there are also days when I feel like everything’s falling apart,” she says. She found the first six months extremely stressful and turbulent. “GC is a large club with twelve sections. It took a while for me to figure out how everything works. I’ve learned a lot in the meantime. There’s a good exchange of ideas. I feel very welcome at the club.”

“We have to make it normal for just as much to be invested in women as in men.”

Now she wants GC Women to move onward and upward. In her capacity as general manager, it’s her job to get women’s football established within the structures of GC and GC Football and promote it. “Talent promotion is far more advanced for boys than for girls. There should be just as much investment in women as in men. We have to work on normalising that. At Lyon, Barcelona and the other major clubs, the standard of play among the women is just as good or even better than that of many men’s teams. And, what’s more, these days good revenues can be generated with women’s football.”

GC Women is a subsection of the football branch of Grasshopper Club Zürich, which evolved from the former FCC United Schwerzenbach. Following the cooperation agreed between FFC United Schwerzenbach and GC Zürich in 2008, the club was fully integrated into GC Zürich in 2009. Around 100 women and girls play in five teams in the national and regional leagues in GC Women. Matches are played at the GC campus in Niederhasli, among other locations.


Acting courageously is something you have to learn

Being an advocate for women’s football takes courage. Courage that Lara Dickenmann often used to lack as a player. “I put up with a lot and didn’t have the guts to stand up for certain things. At the time, I thought courage was mostly related to arguments but never found the right words for those,” she reflects. Her successes and experience gave her the self-confidence she needed for her current position. In her environment, it’s not easy to convey the idea that women’s football doesn’t just have a right to exist, but that it also offers added value for the club as a whole. Lara Dickenmann is firmly convinced of this: “Women’s and men’s football can learn from one another and reap a mutual benefit.” She’s pleased that the GC is moving in the right direction, so far. “But you always want things to happen more quickly,” she adds with a laugh.

“Courage is one of the hardest qualities to develop, but also one of the most important for your own personality.”

A personal test of courage

Lara Dickenmann hasn’t always been as courageous as she is today. “I noticed that I was attracted to women when I was 14. I wish I could have admitted that back then.” She remained silent on the topic for many years. Only in 2018, at the age of 32, did she dare to out herself publicly in the documentary entitled “Lara Dickenmann Loves Football and Women”. That took quite a bit of courage, she explains. “Those intimate insights into my life left me feeling naked. But I wanted to lend greater visibility to the topic of homosexuality. I wanted to be a role model because I didn’t have any lesbians in my youth that I could identify with.”

Lara Dickenmann (36) discovered her passion for football at the age of six. Originally from Kriens, she celebrated her first successes at "Damenfussballclub" (DFC) Sursee before receiving a scholarship to Ohio State University in Columbus. She then went on to Olympique Lyon to win seven French championships and two Champions League tournaments. 2015 brought a transfer to VfL Wolfsburg, where she won four German championships and six German Cup titles. She left the Swiss national squad in 2019 – with a total of 135 international matches and 53 goals. In 2021, she retired from playing professionally and took over the post of general manager of GC Women, a women’s football team. Lara Dickenmann married her former team-mate Anna Blässe and they moved from Wolfsburg to Aargau in summer 2022.

A multifaceted role model

For Lara Dickenmann, her coming out was a liberation and did her good; she learned to be true to herself. Nowadays, she uses this experience and encourages others. She’s committed to the promotion of girls in her capacity as an ambassador for the Laureus Foundation Switzerland, which promotes children and young people through social sports projects. “I want to encourage girls and young sportswomen to believe in themselves and their dreams. You can achieve everything you want to achieve. You have to work for it, but theoretically, the sky’s the limit!”

After serving as a role model in her capacity as a player, Lara Dickenmann now hopes that she can inspire others as a strong woman. And as a strong manager, who will lead GC Women to success in the future. She firmly believes that female footballers need to become more self-assured and more confident.

Lara Dickenmann – In the spotlight

The first thing I think of when I hear the word “courage” is …

For me, the colour of courage is …

When it comes to courage, my role model is …
my wife.

If you want to make courageous decisions, you have to …
have confidence in yourself and simply do it.

These animals embody my personal courage the best …
a pack of wolves.