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Children with an Alive & Kicking ball

Category: Germany

Clocking up the countries visited

5 countries in one day… Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy.

Liechtenstein street football mosaicLiechtenstein street football mosaic

Lichtenstein, the world’s 4th smallest country welcomed us with snow drifting down from the heavens. We shot a scene for the film and ooooops, The Ball was in the water… a rescue mission followed. A cold and wet ball was recovered and as we journeyed over the Alps, The Ball was as snug as a bug and enjoying its ride to the San Siro.

Andrew contemplates the road ahead

Heading south to Ulm

We said our goodbyes to Erfurt. I left my son behind, deciding not to stop by his mother’s for another heart-wrenching goodbye that morning of departure. We had had our goodbye the day before and it left me feeling sick. I couldn’t deal with another one that morning. Another goodbye to my girlfriend Jessica followed, but that was more of a positive as we will be seeing each other soon enough. My son has no idea of what I am doing. He has understood that Papa is coming back in the summer but my son has no idea of time. He’s just 3.5 years old. Ahhh Pauli, I am going to miss you terribly.

We arrive in Ulm, wonderfully hosted by Florian, a night time street kick about in front of Ulm Minster.

Ulm Münster spire shrouded by fog at nightUlm Münster spire shrouded by fog at night
FlorianOur host Florian

Before we retired that evening we received another message from Inter Milan: complementary tickets for the game on Sunday — and Monday morning photoshoot with a World Cup star. “Which one?” we wondered out loud. “Eto’o”, I said. Or would it be Inter captain and Argentinian legend Zanetti? Hmm, perhaps Julio Cesar or Walter Samuel?

The Ball at Café Nerly, Erfurt

It was a snug little meeting at Café Nerly in Erfurt on Wednesday night which was organized by students from Uni Erfurt (Paul, Christiane, Robert, Robin, Marius). Johannes from Spirit of Football e.V. organized the festivities for the Ball and its arrival in Erfurt. The Ball wants to say a massive thank you to all of you lads.

The Ball had a special sightseeing trip on Tuesday through Erfurt’s old city (here’s how the Thüriger Allgemeine saw it.

Andrew and Sven gave a presentation about the journey thus far. Later the Erfurt Band “Roots of Liberty Life” released the song “Fans will be Friends” which is dedicated to The Ball 2010. Nice job ROLL!

See the Video from the evening:

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“Fans werden Freunde sein. Nicht nur ein Motto sondern auch der Geist einer grenzenlosen Reise. Mit ihrem Song “Fans will be friends” drückt die Band “Roots of Liberty Life” genau das aus, was Andrew Aris fühlt, wenn er sich mit “The Ball” auf die lange Reise begibt.”

I feel like I need another 10 days

ball clock

I feel like I need another 10 days to really be ready to travel but I have another 1.5 days.

Why does the taxman come calling in my weakest hour? Why does my roommate illegally download a psycho-thriller from the internet — and why does a lawyer in Berlin have to find out about it and bill me (my name is on the internet connection) a few days before the biggest trip of my life?

Why do I suddenly just now realize the millions of little things that need to be taken care of? Why am I so disorganized? Ask my ex-wife –- she’s been telling me for years! Why is it so difficult to get a Nigerian visa? And why is it that I have to fall in love right before I leave?

And, above all, how do I say goodbye to my most treasured friend, my 3.5-year-old son? What the hell am I actually doing, going on the road to the World Cup? Suddenly, I begin to appreciate how sorely I am going to miss my son and how impossible it is for him to understand my being gone.

The doubts have been rising this last week: am I really going to be able to do this? Will I be able to keep the mosquitoes at bay? How am I going to be able to deal with the journey financially, physically, emotionally? What happens when I come back? Am I going to come back? What happens if I am attacked? How will I defend myself?

Can a football really help me through those tricky situations?

Fun and games in Erfurt

Andrew and Sven with The Ball and The Golf BallAndrew and Sven with The Ball and The Golf Ball

The Ball is pausing for a short while in Erfurt while Andrew prepares to leave once and for all on the long haul journey to South Africa. In the meantime, there’s time for some fun with friends around this ancient German city.

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“Andrew Aris ist wieder in Erfurt – wenn auch nur für kurze Zeit. Der Neuseeländer macht auf seiner “The Ball”-Reise zur WM Station in Thüringen, um den Menschen das 2002 ins Leben gerufene, einzigartige Projekt näherzubringen.” as the Thüringer Allgemeine puts it.

Köln Kickt The Ball

Another day, another Mitfahrgelegenheit passenger — this time Dafina from Bulgaria, whose work as a government retirement consultant takes her over the whole world and, amazingly, may lead to a rendezvous with The Ball in Burkina Faso in March. We arrived in Köln (Cologne) right on time for the finals of an indoor street football cup organised by Köln Kickt.

Köln Kickt works predominantly with socially-disadvantaged, immigrant youth. Football brings the kids together and provides valuable life skills, integrates them into society, keeps them fit and off the streets as well as providing opportunities for social and personal development.

Jose Londji coaches one of the girls teamsJose Londji a project leader of Köln Kickt, coaches the girls

We were greeted by Jose Londji, an ex-professional from Cologne and Bayer Leverkusen who played for Congo at the African National Championships before his career ended prematurely due to injury.

The Ball was the guest of honour and was played with in the final of the boys’ competition and the opening games of the girls’ competition. The young people enthusiastically kicked The Ball and those that did got to sign it too.

A girls game with The BallA girls game with The Ball
A boys game with The BallA boys game with The Ball
A girls team pose with The BallA girls team pose with The Ball

Germany’s freestyle champion Dominik Kaiser gave a performance that will be remembered for a long time. What amazing skills.

We also had the chance to find out about Köln Kickt’s social football initiatives and to hear about an exciting World Cup project that is being organised together with 1FC Cologne (the top German Bundesliga football team) and 10 schools from all over Cologne. Each school “adopts” a different African nation and will get involved in cultural, music, art and sports projects that reflect the spirit of that country. In the lead up to the World Cup they will then present what they have done at the City Hall. And The Ball is going to be integrated into these classrooms: an exciting and unexpected development, which we are delighted about.

Next stop: Erfurt. Final preparations (travel gear), visit to the Health Department, a Nigerian visa to sort out and most importantly the chance to spend some time with my lovely little boy. Pauli, papa misses you.

The Ball 2018 left England on 25th March 2018 and travelled to the World Cup in Russia.

The Ball 2014 kicked off from England on 9th Jan 2014 and headed to the World Cup in Brazil.

The Ball 2010 left England on 24th Jan 2010 headed to the Opening Ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Ball 2006 travelled from London to the Opening Ceremony in Munich, Germany.

The Ball 2002 was carried 7000 miles across Europe and Asia to the World Cup finals in Korea & Japan.