The Ball starts again

After four long years of strained waiting and preparation, the time has come again. THE BALL is going on its sixth journey around the world. This time it is all about “climate action” because the unifying power of THE BALL aims to inspire football fans and ordinary people all over the world to take action for sustainability and climate-friendly behaviour. The importance of the ball’s mission has also been recognised by many politicians across party and national borders. Therefore, on 7 July, our partner the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Thüringen and Erfurt’s Mayor Andreas Bausewein (SPD) together with Anneliese Dodds the Chair of The Labour Party (UK), and Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities met in front of Erfurt’s City Hall to give the Ball’s team a send-off on their way to the kick-off in London.

Anneliese Dodds made a climate pledge on behalf of her party: “My Party, the Labour Party in the UK, pledges that we will invest to make sure we can face up to the climate crisis and deliver good quality jobs in the green economy. We have made a climate investment pledge of 28 billion pounds a year, so that we really can make sure that we face up to those environmental challenges and at the same time make sure that people have good employment.”.

The Spirit of Football team leaving Erfurt in the rain

Of course, many friends and companions of Spirit of Football were there to give the all-stars Andrew Aris, Benjamin Grünewald and Sven Messerschmidt (Svenchen), as well as newcomer Jenny Amann, a lot of energy for the journey. They needed it because the first stage took them in their shared car from our partner “Teilauto” for eight long hours to Ghent in Belgium. There, they only had time for a short evening walk along the Schelde Canal before falling into bed. The next morning they went to Calais at the French end of the Eurotunnel. The team still remembered the pictures of the refugee camp “Jungle of Calais”. Between 2016 and 2021, thousands of migrants tried to jump on the train leading to the British island. At the same time, the team became aware that despite Brexit, this tunnel is still a sign of the bond between continental Europe and Great Britain.

Ball wizard Svenchen celebrated this bond right away with a goal that he shot directly through the driver’s window of a car onto the lap of an elderly lady while juggling in the car park in front of the tunnel. The British lady was “not amused”, but kept her countenance. After half an hour of driving under the sea (Euro Tunnel), the four team members finally arrived on British soil, where they first treated themselves to refreshment in the Leybourne Lakes. Shortly afterwards, they had made it, despite traffic on the left and blazing hot weather. There they were again: L-O-N-D-O-N, the birthplace of modern football.

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