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Ask any Russian about Dombai and you will hear that this village of 600 inhabitants is very popular as a ski- and hiking centre. And we found that this is with good cause! It was probably one of the most idyllic of our workshop places  Our accommodation was surrounded by 4000 m high rocky giants – a pretty youth hostel for our 24 participants, with a small natural pool, directly in front of the entrance, filled with icy spring water. Our 3-bed-room had the best view onto a fascinating landscape.

After a little round of jogging in the morning to explore the surroundings, we are highly motivated to prepare our workshop. The participants are expecting a 7-day-programme, in which the focus is on leadership and sustainable work in their communities. Our workshop on fair-play is embedded in this week and is supposed to give them a perspective on the work of an NGO from Germany. The organisation,that had planned this summer school for students, was New Horizons. They had been very helpful in procuring our humanitarian visas. A big thank you to the team of New Horizons, especially to Sophia Shakirova, who was always on the spot with help and good advice.

The rudimentary English of the participants was counterbalanced by our meager knowledge of Russian. But actually, as usual, the Spirit crew could mainly arouse enthusiasm for the Spirit of football with hands, feet, mimicry, gestures and lots of emotion. A distinguishing characteristic of our projects is the energy and a certain craziness with which we interact with the participants in order to overcome initial reservations – in return we experienced sheer enthusiasm for our “mission”. Our beloved energizer “The Journey to Dombai” was a great success and set the course for fabulous days in the Caucasus. It was followed by a presentation of Spirit of Football and a common football evening watching Russia against Egypt.

The next day the Spirit-rambling group started off to climb one of the 3000-meter-high peaks. Due to lack of time, we took an old but well-oiled cable-car. What fun! For THE BALL and for us the view of the landscape was an absolutely unique experience!

In the afternoon, we put the lid on our successful workshop with fairplay-theatre and a fairplay-football session accompanied by ideal weather and a beautiful panorama. We finished off the two-day workshop with the artistic feedback-method “Spirit of Whispers” and the subsequent Ball-signing ceremony. Which meant that the Spirit crew had to say farewell. Goodbyes such as these are often quite heart-breaking. In such a short time, some of the participants had already been so strongly infected by the Spirit fever, that they had tears in their eyes. But all encounters are over at some point. As is the tradition in the Caucasus, a bucket of water was poured out behind the bus to guarantee a safe journey – quite an experience for us.

Amazing days in Dombai had come to an end. Спасибо you wonderful participants. Спасибо NEW HORIZONS.

Next stop Sochi. Ger-Swe. World Cup.

Benny Linse & Benjamin Grünewald



Written by & on Thursday, June 21st, 2018

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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.