May 11th and 12th:
The next stop for The Ball was at MAHSA University. In August 2022 an SOF Team ran a 2-day workshop at BVB in Dortmund (Germany) with participants from various BVB departments – the BVB Academy, the BVB CSR Department, BVB International and even sponsors. It was there that we met Julia Farr, from BVB Asia. Julia began to connect The Ball to different BVB partners in Asia. We even ran a TOT workshop together with Julia in Cambodia and visited her football club in Singapore . Julia suggested we get in touch with MAHSA University (Malaysia), where BVB is a partner in the MAHSA Football Academy. We did so and plans were hatched for a workshop.
We ran a 2-day workshop at MAHSA University on May 11th and 12th for 20 students. Approximately half of the participants were from the MAHSA Football Academy. Our workshops work better when we have local partners involved in them. Once again the power of networking came to the fore. In November 2022 The Ball attended COP-27 in Egypt.
There we met another Julia – Julia Behrens, who was responsible for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s South East Asian climate change project. As The Ball was going to be visiting Vietnam in March (to run a workshop which also kicked-off the South-East Asia leg of The Ball journey), supported by Julia and her team, she thought it would be a good idea to connect The Ball to her partner organisation, the climate activists from the Malaysian Youth Delegation. And so we began to correspond with them. In Cambodia, we were in turn connected to another organisation, Zero Waste Malaysia. These two partners sent representatives to our 2-day workshop at MAHSA University. Their local expertise and knowledge of climate change in Malaysia as well as specifically on topics like food waste and recycling added enormous value to our workshop. Indeed, several of the participants learned for the first time about the mechanics of climate change at the workshop in small break-out sessions led by our motivated and engaging partners.
Our FairPlay football session also highlighted the importance of teamwork. Mixed teams, made up of budding football professionals and people who had never played football before, showed that football can be fun for everyone. A big shout-out to the MAHSA Football Academy players who were able to help those who had never played before to enjoy playing football. It was a beautiful example of non-competitive football fun. The climate variations that the SOF team introduced also had an “ah-ha” effect. For example, the participants collected plastic rubbish as part of their warm-up. This rubbish was then tipped onto the field of play. Afterwards, reflecting upon this situation, one participant used the word “disturbing” to describe how he felt about playing with rubbish on the field. We also reflected as a group that FairPlay football highlights teamwork and that to combat climate change we need a team effort with everybody working together in unison.
On the second day of the workshop, Verena Leidinger from BVB provided an input on the sustainability strategy of BVB.
It gave our participants a more global perspective and also showed the importance that even big football clubs are beginning to allocate to sustainability. It also highlighted not only environmental sustainability but also the often forgotten topics of social sustainability. BVB’s work through their fan project and the BVB learning centre directly in their stadium are examples of how football can, should and is supporting social infrastructure.
At the end of the workshop participants, partners and university administration came together in the University’s Auditorium for a closing signing ceremony. Headers, pledges and statements were recorded. Certificates were handed out. The Ball had worked its magic again. A highlight was the young football team pledging as a team to undertake clean-ups on campus and around the campus. It reminded us that teamwork can make the dream work. In fact, working together is the only hope we have to combat climate change.
You can also read about The Ball at MAHSA University in their blog.