Interview Almuth Schult

February 16, 2024

"Athletes can't make headway without committed sponsors."

Interview with Almuth Schult, goalkeeper in Germany's women's national football team

The goalkeeper in Germany's women's national football team is a jury member of the VW FS sponsorship program for young sports talents. In this interview, she talks about her greatest supporters, her role as a television expert, and the dream of participating in the Paris Olympics.

Almuth Schult

goalkeeper in Germany's women's national football team

Almuth Schult

She is one of the best-known and most popular sportswomen in Germany. This is due to her role as a TV expert on Germany's ARD broadcasting network, but more significantly to her impressive career in women's football. The 32-year-old is a national goalkeeper and was an Olympic gold medalist and a European Championship winner with the German team. She also defended the goalposts of the club VfL Wolfsburg for many years, winning the league championship, the DFB Cup, and the Champions League. After a stint in Los Angeles with Angel City FC, she returned to Germany last year and is currently a free agent. Almuth Schult is married and has three small children – and she is a jury member for the VW FS young sports talent sponsorship program. In the interview, she also stresses the importance of receiving support and backing in both professional and personal life.

Almuth, why did you get involved as a jury member in the young talent promotion program funded by Volkswagen Financial Services?

I know from experience that without committed sponsors and financial support, athletes eventually reach the point that they can't get any further. Often, the amount of money they receive as support plays a key role in their progress, for example in their ability to finance things like travel to training and competitions, sports equipment, coaching, or even training camps. This can make a huge difference and be decisive for whether they make it to the top. That's why I'm delighted to support the Volkswagen Financial Services sports talent sponsorship program as a jury member, helping select talented young athletes and perhaps paving their way to the top. 

As you know, football isn't the focus of this program sponsoring young sporting talent. As a passionate and full-blooded footballer, why are you supporting it despite that?

I think it's a good thing that football isn't the main interest of this program, but rather that it casts a spotlight on athletes from disciplines that receive less public attention. This year, for example, the program is supporting 30 young talents from 19 different sports – from badminton and canoeing to rowing and sport climbing. I also like that the young athletes introduce themselves on video – and not just showcase their sport, but also themselves and their personal life situation. Taking all this into consideration not only means having the unenviable task of choosing among outstanding young talents, but it's also exciting, educational, and fun. 

Who was your greatest supporter, who helped you the most?

At the beginning, it was my parents of course – I wouldn't have made it this far without them. I'm eternally grateful to them for that. I should point out that I'm the youngest of four children, and yet my mum and dad always provided me with all the support I needed. And at the age of 16, they allowed and enabled me to move out of our family home in a village in Wendland with 120 inhabitants and into a one-bedroom apartment in Hamburg – so that I could prove myself in the top division squad at the HSV football club. Parental support like that isn't a given – and who knows how things would have turned out if I hadn't been allowed to take that step. Today, they help my husband and me look after our three children, as does the rest of the family as well.

And who gave you the most help and support later on, when you had already made the leap into the football business?

That was probably Michael Fuchs, the national team's goalkeeper coach. He not only helped me evolve as a player, but also helped me immensely in my development as an individual. I could come to him with any topic and seek his advice. He's also an outstanding coach, and without him I wouldn't have reached the top in my sport. Before him, I had a number of good coaches who mainly taught me to never see football as a burden, but always as fun.

You're well-known and popular as an expert in television broadcasts, especially on the channel ARD, also for matches played by the women's national team. At the same time, you're part of this national team and stand up for its interests, even though you're not currently active. How do you avoid potential conflicts of interest? 

Such conflicts would arise if I were to disclose inside information on television. In that case I would rightly enough incur the team's displeasure. However, I believe there hasn't been any conflict so far, and I can separate the two roles well enough. After all, you can talk about sporting performance without denouncing anyone. And objective analysis is what's wanted on television. In my other role, I of course try to help the team in both word and deed.

You said in an interview last year that the Summer Olympics in Paris in mid-2024 would be another dream come true. Does that dream still persist, even though you're not currently training or playing in a club? 

An Olympian doesn't give up that easily! And there's still some time to get fit and find a club. First and foremost, the team has to qualify against France at the end of February anyway. At the moment I'm mainly training at home. I have a gym in the house that I set up from my last Olympic bonus. And running's something I can do anywhere. Also, I often drive an hour and a half to Braunschweig to visit therapist friends. They also give me support.

The fact that the German team can still dream of Olympic qualification is also thanks to the new coach Horst Hrubesch, who took over from Martina Voss-Tecklenburg. How has he managed to breathe new life into the team after last year's botched World Cup with the unexpected early exit after the group stage? 

Through his empathetic and open manner! The team had already gained trust in him in 2018 when he took over as interim coach for the first time. He's simply a person who knows how to assess others very well and states plainly and clearly what he wants to see. That helps the players.

After the 2022 European Championship in England, where the German team reached the final and only narrowly lost to England in extra time, there was a prevailing sense of euphoria and women's football was on everyone's lips. How enthusiastic is the mood at the moment? 

It's still positive and, above all, sustainable. The home international matches, for example, were always sold out. The average attendance in the Federal League games has also increased. My former club VfL Wolfsburg is a good example: before Euro 2022 they had an average of 1,500 spectators, and now it's between 3,000 and 3,500 – even without high-profile fixtures. A women's Federal League match was even broadcast live on ARD at 6 pm on a Saturday – you won't find a broadcast slot like that so easily in the last ten years. And when Alexandra Popp, Giulia Gwinn or Jule Brand walk through the city, they are spotted and recognized. Before Euro '22, that was only occasionally the case.

How about you, are you happy being recognized in the city? 

Popularity is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you're happy when people are interested in you. But when someone just comes up and says, "Hey, photo," then you're not. It's all about respect, understanding, and friendliness. If someone asks nicely if it's OK, then I'm glad to do it. However, there are also situations where you want to be left alone. For example, when you're sitting in a restaurant with the children and just want to eat in peace. That's when you hope people understand that a "no" can also be an acceptable answer.

As a mother of three, how do you even manage to think about continuing to work as a professional footballer?

With the help of a great partner and good organization! It's all about having a network. There's the age-old saying that children are not only raised by the parents, it takes a whole village to bring them up. I'm incredibly grateful to my family, our siblings, my parents and in-laws for helping us make it work together – especially as my husband also works full-time. But that's how it was with us in the past too. We grew up on a farm, so you couldn't say, "In that case I'll just feed the cows tomorrow." There was always work to go off and do – and I had to go along too! And I've also taken my children with me to conferences and appearances already. It's all a matter of getting used to it.

Jury Sports talents 2024

The VW FS sponsorship program for young sports talent

Eleven young athletes can look forward to financial support from Volkswagen Financial Services in the second round of the company's program to sponsor and promote young sports talent. Out of just under 200 applications, a high-caliber jury including football icon Almuth Schult and biathlon Olympic champion Arnd Peiffer selected top talents aged up to 23 years from Lower Saxony at the end of December 2023. VW FS are supporting a further 19 talents from the first round of the program, bringing the current total to 30 young athletes who are receiving individual funding of up to 50,000 euros from the Volkswagen Group's financial and mobility services provider. Further information about the program at