"Welcome to Football" alliance celebrates birthday – and success!
"Using the integrative power of sport" – that was the mantra espoused by the "Dortmund Alliance", as part of a nationwide integration programme called "Welcome to football", at its inception last year. The successes are visible. And audible.
"Football is deeply embedded in our society and enjoys great popularity. It can reach those in the lowest social classes", stressed Dr. Reinhard Rauball. He continued, "football brings people together, irrespective of their skin colour, religion or background, and, consequently, has a valuable contribution to make to the cause of integration. Football's socio-political responsibilities are well known, and will be fulfilled."
"It is pioneering outside of football too"
The President of Borussia Dortmund and the Football League was on familiar terrain at Victor-Toyka-Straße. For TSC Eintracht calls it home, and Dr. Rauball has been an active club member here for over 55 years. And here, integration is lived. "It is part of the club's DNA", asserted TSC Chairman Alexander Kiel: "It is our ambition to be able to offer as many people as possible appropriate sporting opportunities, and that includes refugees in particular."
In Dortmund, clubs and institutions are working together closely in order to integrate those displaced from other countries into society. TSC Eintracht makes training facilities and classrooms available for the 'Alliance', as well as providing lunch. The Walter-Blücher foundation establishes contact with schools and the local authorities while also arranging care in the form of a social worker. BVB participates in the process via its own foundation "leuchte auf" (lit. 'light up') by providing a trainer, helping with sports clothing and learning materials, and also with some financial support.
Daniela Schadt – patroness of the German Children and Youth Foundation– has an eye for political processes as the life partner of the Federal President Joachim Gauck, and showed herself to be enthused "by the structure in this project", with regard to the successes of the 21 alliances nationwide. "It is pioneering outside of football too. They are demonstrating here what can be achieved when voluntary workers and public sector workers cooperate more closely."
"You cannot survive without language"
Once a week, the alliance offers up to 25 young refugees between 17 and 20 years old an hour long German lesson alongside a cost-free football training session, which has produced noteworthy results. "German is difficult, but not impossible to learn" said Mennif Saeed, whose original utterance in German only needed amending slightly for the article. "We are not just playing football as part of this project, but we are also learning the language. That helps us to make new friends and acquaintances", claimed the young man who fled from Iraq. Mohamed Omar, originally from Syria, added: "You have got to speak. You cannot survive in Germany without the language." Their coach, Marvin Mainoo-Boakye, is well able to put himself in their position. The co-trainer of Borussia Dortmund's U14s "arrived in Germany at the age of ten. I could not speak a word of German. Football gave me a lot. This is what I have been able to give back, and it is a lot of fun for me."
Cramer: "We didn't simply march off alone"
The DFL had already presented the idea for such a programme to the national government in autumn 2014, reported Dr. Rauball: "The Bundesliga Foundation and others like leuchte auf feel the sense of responsibility of those who are doing well for themselves." Twenty one initiatives of this sort were formed across the country. Carsten Cramer, the leuchte auf Foundation chairman, elucidated: "We didn't simply march off alone, but got together with others such as TSC Eintracht in order to get this project off the ground. It just goes to show what energy football can inspire in people. Our fans are very engaged with the subject of integration."
Daniela Schadt had taken many positives from the experience, as she boarded the ICE train bound for Berlin after a good two hours. "Team sports and club culture are ideally suited to the task of overcoming cultural, language or societal barriers", said the woman at our President's side. Boris Rupert