Playing Football at the "Führungsakademie"

Dr Margret Johannsen

Roland Kaestner, a trained paratrooper and Military Fellow at the IFSH from 1989 to 1991, had used his access to the sports hall at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College to get a football team off the ground. I heard about the team upon returning from a six-month research stay at the US Congressional Research Service in Washington, DC. I stood outside Roland's office and asked to join the team – after all, I had played football with the boys back when I was in primary school. Roland allowed it.

Reinhard Mutz, Götz Neuneck and Hans-Georg Ehrhart were also there; Hans-Georg and Götz were gifted dribblers. Once we played against Bundeswehr officers and were hoping for some vocal support from the IFSH. Egon Bahr came along and sat in the stands just like all our fans, cheering us on. He spotted me amongst the players and asked his fellow spectators, “What are you calling her? Megi?” “Megi, Megi!” he shouted, calling out things like, “She just keeps on running!” And when I trapped a ball underneath me and wouldn't give way, he burst out laughing. Officers aren’t allowed to kick a woman in the ribs – I took shameless advantage of that.

The next day at the institute, Egon Bahr came to meet me on the first floor with his hand outstretched and said warmly: "Megi!". It seemed he had only really noticed me as a football player, having long forgotten that I had once taken the minutes at the IFSH/IPW meetings. Since that day, I have been in his good books. And he has had my back during many stressful situations with the deputy director. Is there anything football isn’t good for?

Author: Dr. Margret Johannsen