Six new recruits for the pre-season


"We are clearly aiming to get promoted! We want to be in the first division again and that's what we're working for," said coach Verena Hagedorn in setting out this season's targets. She is very happy with the new signings: "The new players fitting in well and are very motivated. We're working hard to see that the team works well together on the pitch and we are trying to create confidence about being decisive in games. We're on the right track."
One of the new signings is Lara Heß. The striker, signed from first division club MSV Duisburg, is looking forward to a new challenge under the Bayer Cross. The 19-year-old was at Duisburg from the U15s and this summer she has started training to be a medical assistant alongside playing football. Saskia Meier joins from first division SC Sand with the intention of getting more time on the pitch. The 20-year-old can play both in central defence and midfield and with her move to Leverkusen she has also started a course in office management.
The addition of 20-year-old Henrike Sahlmann, formerly in the Bundesliga with SGS Essen, increases options at full-back and in midfield. Sahlmann has mainly played in the Regional League but did also play for the first team at Essen. There are also three home-grown players in the squad: defender Valentina Finestra (23) plus Barbara Reger (attacking midfield/attack) and Sabina Sauder (goalkeeper) who move up from the U17s having regularly trained with the first team last season.
"I'm very happy with all areas of the team," said Hagedorn. "We have a very experienced midfield – they are true top players. Our strikers are very determined and I think we will also be good with our build-up play."

New faces in the support staff

The coaching set-up has also undergone change. Coach Verena Hagedorn, who took over the helm in April last season, will have the support of two assistants, Conny Reese and Detlef Kowaltschuk. Reese gained her coaching badge under Hagedorn and she last coached the U15 team at FC Hennef. Kowaltschuk and Hagedorn also know each other from back in the day when they worked at the Middle Rhine Football Association. Kowaltschuk also set up and developed the youth football academy in Hennef.
Fitness coach Tobias Steimels and physio Laura Gerlich complete the support staff. Steimels, also an assistant in the women's football HQ, is a former athlete and previously he spent four years as fitness coach with the Bayer 04 U17 women's squad. Laura Gerlich also has previous contact with the club: In 2013 she completed a placement in the medical section at Bayer 04 and most recently worked as a physio with the Germany roller hockey team. Philipp Birker remains as the goalkeeping coach.

Successful start to pre-season

The first friendly for the Bayer 04 Women in the summer break produced a 6-1 victory over the SGS Essen second team. A four-day training camp at Kurtekotten ended with another workout against the Bayer 04 Women's second team and a 4-0 win. Further friendlies have been arranged at MSV Duisburg (30 July, 15.00 CET), against FC Köln (10 August, 19.15 CET, Kurtekotten), at SGS Essen (20 August, 14.00 CET) and against the FC Hennef U15s (27 August). The second division Bundesliga South kicks off on Sunday 3 September with the game at home to FFC Niederkirchen.


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