Pitch perfect: How Birkbeck helped Marisa reach her graduation goals

Marisa Ewers, graduating this week with an MSc in Sports Management and the Business of Football, juggled her studies with a professional football career, playing midfield for Birmingham City Women’s FC.

For the past 12 years Marisa Ewers has been playing football at a professional level, and for the past two, she’s combined this full-on career with an MSc in Sports Management and the Business of Football at Birkbeck, University of London.

She started playing football as a child, joining her local boys’ team in Hamburg, Germany. But after being told she was no longer allowed to play with the boys when she turned 13, she found a girls’ team down the road in Altona. As she got older, she continued playing for the various German National Youth Teams (Under 15s, Under 17s, Under 19s and Under 23s) and for Hamburger SV, quickly moving from the second team to the first team aged 17.

Now playing midfield for Birmingham City Women’s FC, she is highly adept at taking on new challenges but she acknowledges it has been hard work undertaking her studies at the same time as her rigorous training schedule. “You are being asked to show a lot of commitment,” she said, “but I would always recommend female footballers to do something else, alongside playing football, to prepare yourself for after your sporting career.”

Travelling from Birmingham to London two or three times a week for lectures, she says, could be especially gruelling, but her tutors were very understanding of her multiple commitments. “Evening courses are a great thing for players who want to study alongside their carer. Studying Sport Management helps in particular, as you are surrounded by people who understand the effort you put in.”

Hailing from Germany, the master’s held an extra challenge for Marisa in that she had to complete her assignments and follow lectures in a second language. “But now I can look back and say ‘yeah you actually have a master’s degree in a different language’” she says, “and I think that this is great for my CV and it will help me for my career after football.”

And what might she look for in her career after football? “In an ideal world I see myself working within a professional football club,” she says. “Team management and scouting are areas that sound interesting to me and I‘ve already gained some experience in these departments.”

Are you a woman interested in studying at Birkbeck’s Sports Business Centre? Find out about the Edwards Scholarship for Women in Sport.

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