Living and working in Budapest, one of Europe’s great cities, has some major advantages.
Now, Winnipeggers Chandra Bednar and Caroline Kehrer can add the thrill of winning a national soccer title to the list.
Playing for Ferencváros TC in Hungary’s top women’s professional league, Bednar, a 31-year-old goalkeeper, and Kehrer, a 24-year-old forward, helped their team win two titles and qualify for participation in Champions League, Europe’s top domestic competition this fall.
Bednar and her Ferencváros teammates blanked MTK Hungária FC 3-0 in the first leg of the league final on May 23 and wrapped up the title with a 3-2 decision on their home pitch three days later.
Three weeks earlier, they won the Hungarian Cup with a 5-1 win over Astra.
"We played so, so good (in the first game of the league final) and the second game, we were winning three-zero and the ref called a penalty that wasn’t a penalty at all," said Bednar by phone Tuesday. "I came out to the ball, got it clean and the girl like tripped over my body (in the 58th minute).
"The ref, called the PK, which was unbelievable and they scored, so it’s 3-1. And then they scored again in the 70th minute, so it’s 3-2 but then we held them off… It was such an amazing day. An amazing feeling. There were a lot of fans there, which was nice."
Bednar spent four years with three teams in Sweden, winning a league title with Linköpings FC in 2016, before signing with Ferencváros. Her contract with Ferencváros has another year to run.
First-year pro Kehrer, meanwhile, is contemplating an offer to return for the 2021-22 season but will take the time to consider her options. She returned home this week to visit her family while Bednar remained in Europe for a brief vacation and a return to full-time training some time next month.
Preliminary round games in Champions League begin in August.
Both Kehrer and Bednar were honoured by Soccer Canada last week. They are two members of a group of 14 Canadians who had played for championship pro teams in Europe in the past year.
"Last week we had one week of training and this week was vacation, so that’s been nice," said Bednar, who is also doing some rehab work to deal with a nagging knee injury. "But I’ve been still working out a little bit and keeping my fitness up. I don’t like to take that much of a break to be honest."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.