Meriame Terchoun

Ready to Board: Meriame Terchoun, the Swiss player working for the next generation

Employment Market Women Player story

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Meriame Terchoun
FC Zürich Frauen player, Meriame Terchoun, is taking part in FIFPRO’s Ready to Board programme.

Terchoun was one of 14 promising participants selected to take part in the programme, which is tailored to prepare women for leadership roles in football.

She has won the Swiss league seven times, appeared in the UEFA Women's Champions League and represented Switzerland women’s national team 13 times but has not had the opportunity to earn a living as a player. Instead of giving up on football as a job, she has begun a career path to improve pay and conditions for the next generation of female footballers.

As Player Relations Manager at the Swiss Association of Football Players, she is making an impact off the pitch at the age of 25.

How did your life as a footballer lead to your current role?
I started playing football because my dad did and, at first, I just played with the boys at school. However, over time I took it more seriously and as I began playing with other girls and then for the national team - I soon realised that this was my passion.

I was successful with FC Zurich and my plan was to move abroad and play professionally, as that is still not possible for women here in Switzerland. However, I’ve had to accept the reality that, due to various injuries, I wouldn’t be able to take my career to that level.

For six months I took a role coaching younger girls, and it changed my approach to women’s football entirely. There’s so much to do for these girls, and I wanted to dedicate myself to helping them – which led me to my job at the union here in Switzerland.

Meriame Terchoun Suisse
Meriame Terchoun, playing for Switzerland

What’s your greatest achievement as a player so far?
Winning championships is important, but it’s about more than that. It’s about showing people that the women’s game is improving every day, and that there are good teams out there playing great football.

People are starting to take notice of us, reading about us and watching us play, and really that’s what I am most proud of.

What would you ideally like to achieve over the next few years?
In the first instance for there to be better structures in place for the women’s game. I really think in the next few years we should be reaching a level where women can earn money through playing football – even at a semi-professional level.

Of course, I am sad that playing professionally wasn’t possible for me, but when I had the opportunity to train the girls teams, I realised that I could still achieve something for the next generation. They're so talented and so full of energy, but right now we lose a lot of female players in their 20s because they have to work other jobs.

Change is not going to come easily, and I know it will be frustrating at times, but I am determined to just keep pushing through.

Meriame Terchoun Hoodie

How do you think more women occupying leadership roles will benefit the football industry as a whole?
When I look at women’s football I feel that we are a lot more accepting of diversity, for example, we are much more welcoming of gay players. We are more open, we speak about things, we speak up for rights - the US Women’s National Team is a great example - and I think this is a perspective that football needs.

I think we also see football from another point of view, because for many of us big money was never really an option or a focus, so our love of the game is just that. That’s not to say that men don’t love the game, of course they do, but it comes with a different perspective.

What was your experience of the Ready to Board programme so far?
I feel like it helped me to just reset myself. When the first part of the programme was finished, I was filled with so much motivation, and got a real starting point on how to step into a leadership role. I learned so many new concepts around how to present myself, how to engage with people, and how to set boundaries – it’s great to have these guidelines to think about.

I'm the kind of person who wants to do things in my own way, I am very driven and direct, and the course helped me to reflect that while this is one of my strengths – it has the potential to be my weakness. As a leader I need to calm down, look at an issue from other perspectives and really hear people’s points of view.