Marie-Louise Eta broke new ground when she took to the Union Berlin bench. - © IMAGO/Sabine Gudath
Marie-Louise Eta broke new ground when she took to the Union Berlin bench. - © IMAGO/Sabine Gudath

Marie-Louise Eta: Who is Union Berlin's history-making assistant coach?


Union Berlin assistant coach Marie-Louise Eta became the first female coach in a Bundesliga fixture during the 2023/24 campaign.

Stats correct as of 27 January 2024

Marie-Louise Eta

Age: 32 (born 7 July, 1991)
Club: Union Berlin
Position: Defensive midfielder
Country: Germany

Prior to forging out a career in coaching, Eta made a name for herself on the pitch, playing for Turbine Potsdam, Hamburg, Cloppenburg and Werder Bremen. Her most successful period as a player came during her time at Potsdam, where she claimed three U17 Bundesliga titles - in 2005, 2006 and 2008 - as a youth team player before being promoted to the senior Bundesliga team as a 17-year-old ahead of the 2008/09 campaign. Eta, then playing under her maiden name of Bagehorn, went on to lift the 2009/10 UEFA Women's Champions League with Potsdam after beating Lyon on penalties in the final. A substitute in the final, Eta also helped the club win three successive Bundesliga titles from 2009 to 2011.

Marie-Louise Eta captained Werder Bremen before hanging up her boots to focus on coaching. - nordphoto / Rauch

In 2018, aged just 26 and while at Werder, Eta announced her retirement as a player and immediately stepped into coaching. She started out working with Bremen's U15 boys' team before being appointed Bettina Wiegmann's assistant for Germany's women’s U15s. Eta, who represented Germany's youth teams as a player, soon completed her pro coaching licence at the German FA academy in Frankfurt and was then moved up to work with Germany’s U17s.

Union came calling in the summer of 2023, bringing Eta in as Marco Grote's assistant for the men’s U19s. The pair had Union's U19s in third-place in both their domestic league and UEFA Youth League competitions before Urs Fischer's departure which saw them take the temporary reins of the first team.

They oversaw a 1-1 draw with Augsburg together before Nenad Bjelica's full-time appointment as head coach, though Eta remained as part of his coaching team until former assistant coach Sebastian Bönig returned after a personal break. With Bjelica suspended, Eta was back in the hotseat on Matchday 19 as she took over media duties ahead of the meeting with Darmstadt.

Watch: All change at Union Berlin

Did you know?

This is not the first time Eta has carved a new path for women in the men's professional game. When working at Werder, she was also the only female coaching the boys of a Bundesliga club's academy. She was also one of the first to take coaching online when the coronavirus pandemic hit, fronting up Werder's series of YouTube coaching classes when the world was forced from the fields and into their homes.

What they're saying

"It doesn't make me proud because I'm the only woman. As a person, I am happy that I can do this job. I don't see any difference whether a man or a woman works in youth football. The quality of the coach on and off the pitch is crucial." - Eta back in 2018 on her being the only female coach in a Bundesliga academy

"It's not a conscious decision to have a woman as an assistant coach, that would discredit this decision. We have made a decision for a soccer coach who already works in the team." -  Union President Dirk Zingler after naming Eta as first-team assistant

"I miss the time on the pitch with the boys, the time in the dressing room, and the coaching team that you usually have around you but the videos make us all feel great. Ultimately, it's important that the children and young people receive coaching from us and keep moving." - Eta on her YouTube coaching classes

“I walked around all day with what felt like a heart rate of 300 and put myself under a lot of pressure because I obviously wanted to put my best foot forward and there were a few challenges. It was an intense day and also beautiful, emotional chaos." - Eta after completing her coaching course in 2022