To kick off the 2024 Puma Year of Sport, Puma’s CEO Arne Freundt met with Alexandra Popp, captain of the German National Football Team, in Wolfsburg, Germany to talk about leadership within the company, football, teamplay, and motivation.


Watch the video of the full interview, here.


Voted Germany’s footballer of the year three times, Popp is one of the most prominent ambassadors for women’s football and is known for her skill and charismatic leadership. She started her career playing in a mixed team and recalled how girls were often belittled and mistreated on the pitch.

Popp: “Football is still pretty tough for girls. The boys on my team were cool. But our opponents were another story. They laughed at you. They said: look, they have a girl in their team, we’ll beat them easily. Or when you play and you dribble past the first guy, maybe past the second guy and then the third guy fouls you hard and knocks you off your feet, in a very nasty way. And you have the parents on the sidelines who cheer him on. If you hear how girls are still being treated at some of the clubs, not a lot has changed.”

Freundt said her story showed how much there is still to be done to create a level playing field for women in football.

Freundt: “Your story is very inspiring and had a huge impact on me. I had thought and hoped that our society would be more open and judge players on their skills and performance and not on their gender. “It clearly shows that we have still a huge way to go. As a sports company, we are 100 percent committed to support trailblazers like you who prove the haters and doubters wrong.”

Despite difficult times as a youth player, Popp believes the challenges early in her career gave her the thick skin necessary to persevere in her long and successful career. 

Popp: “I totally get the girls who say: I don’t want that. Because it was the path I chose to follow, I can now say that those years helped me build up a certain resilience and a certain mentality. Maybe it was what made me the type and the character I am today when I’m on the pitch.”

Regarding leadership, Popp said she believes that the necessary skills were part of her mindset early on in her career, but she noted that she still had a lot to learn once she was asked to captain the team.

Popp: “I needed a year to grow into that position, especially when it came to communication. As a player, I benefited from tough, straightforward advice. And I thought, well, I’ll do it exactly the same way. But that really backfired with some of the players. I had to learn that.”

Freundt, who became Puma CEO in 2022, said he quickly discovered how much he enjoyed leading a team and developing people to reach their full potential.

Freundt: “My first team was quite small, just two employees. But I already really enjoyed it back then, to lead them, to develop them and to see that you have an impact. You make them better at what they do.”

Asked to advise young people who want to become CEOs, Freundt said they should follow their passion.

Freundt: “Look for something that you really enjoy doing. That intrinsically motivates you.That gives you energy and moves you forward. Once you have found that, there are no further barriers to making you successful.”

Popp will captain Germany at the Olympic Football Tournament in Paris this year. 

The watch the video of the full interview, go here or click on the image above.