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On the back of a stellar playing career and subsequent roles at the forefront of the women's game in Germany, Steffi Jones is no stranger to breaking new ground. It was therefore fitting that the two-time UEFA Women's Cup winner, now an ambassador of UEFA's Women's Football Development Programme, should appear as UEFA.com's first-ever Google+ hangout guest at the UEFA Champions Festival in Munich.
UEFA.com: How important is it to have the women's and men's UEFA Champions League finals together in the same city, in the same week? How does that help promote the women's event?
Steffi Jones: It's nice to have the women's final with the men's because the recognition is way bigger than it would be by itself. Even if many people talk about the men's final they also know that there is great women's final being played, and this Champions Festival is a great opportunity to promote women's and girls' football. I'm really happy the decision was made to host both games in one city.
UEFA.com: You, of course, used to play for 1. FFC Frankfurt, who play Olympique Lyonnais in tonight's final. What memories do you have of playing in the competition?
Jones: The first was the UEFA Women's Cup, played in 2002, when I scored. That was a great final for me, and the first time I'd played at such a high level against other big teams, internationally. Now you have Lyon coming up against Frankfurt; [Lyon] have so many French national team players, also Swedes and players from Brazil, Switzerland, so it's like playing a championship. It's a great opportunity, and I think that they are all very nervous tonight.
Ally Hendry: What's it like to be in Munich at the festival ahead of the finals?
Jones: It's great, because you can see all the scarves and banners, all in red and white. All the people here want Bayern to win this final, but they also want the women's final to be a great game. The atmosphere is wonderful. Even the taxi drivers are talking about the women's final, so I'm really happy about that. Like I always said, it's not all about the men; there are also women and they're playing attractive football too.
Bryan Waters: Obviously your former team Frankfurt are in the final; how do you think they'll fare against Lyon?
Jones: It's going to be a tough game for Frankfurt, since they have some injured players. They need a lot of confidence, but I hope Frankfurt do it, because they have a good mix of young players and more experienced players and individually they are pretty good. Frankfurt hopefully wins 2-1.
Karis Buckingham Jones: Which players can we look out for tonight?
Jones: On the Lyon side we have Camille Abily, [Sonia] Bompastor, [Lotta] Schelin – [Élodie Thomis] is suspended – and [Lara] Dickenmann. On the Frankfurt side they have Saskia Bartusiak in defence, in midfield Sandra Smisek the captain, Kerstin Garefrekes on the wing, Dzsenifer Marozsán, who's really young and talented. I could list the whole teams, because they both are really good, and I would say let's just enjoy a good game. I'm from Frankfurt so my wish goes to them, but we'll see.
Paul O'Connor: How much are you looking forward to seeing a record crowd over in the Olympiastadion this evening for the final?
Jones: It's amazing what has happened here, great teamwork. The highest crowd [before] was 28,000, and we have already sold 40,000. So this is amazing, and I'm going to enjoy it so much. I'm going to get goosebumps and be really sad that I'm not on the pitch. But it is great, and well done to everybody: UEFA, the city, the stadium owners, everybody.
Romi Shepherd: When will the day come when a woman's football player can compete with the men?
Jones: I don't really think that that is possible, because you have the chance as a girl to practise and play against boys until the age of 12, 13, 14. You have some players that are really so talented and good; maybe one out of however many million that could play with men, but [she wouldn't have] the speed. So I would say it is more realistic saying there might be a female coach [in the men's game].
Simon Knights: The FIFA Women's World Cup final last year in Germany got a huge response and plenty of promotion across social media networks such as Twitter. How important is that for the future?
Jones: That's what we wanted with this World Cup, to set a milestone worldwide. And it's very important to keep developing that, doing a lot of promotion and having highlights like this Champions Festival, because this is the opportunity for us to show the world again that there is great women's football. There is a great chance for us with the social media; everybody does it and we are trying to be up-to-date.
UEFA.com: There's a great example of it here as well, we've had loads of people calling in and a huge response of people wanting to ask you questions. How did you feel about being involved in this first ever UEFA.com Google+ hangout?
Jones: I'm still nervous! But it is fun, and I want to thank you all for asking me questions and giving me the opportunity to talk to you.
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