Hanspeter Rothmund is a social entrepreneur who has co-ordinated children’s football projects in Sudan, Kosovo and Palestine. Football Is More hosted the Together We Are Stronger International Forum in Switzerland where a number of major football organisations and NGOs discussed the importance of a role model. Hanspeter very kindly replied to the following questions;
Q. Can you tell National Children’s Football Alliance members a little about Football Is More? What are the ultimate aims that FIM would like to achieve?
HP. The Foundation aims to continue supporting children and young people in difficult circumstances through specific sporting activities.
“BRING HOPE INTO THEIR HEARTS”
- FIM recently hosted the first ever Together We Are Stronger International Forum at the
Q. Grand Hotel in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland. How successful was the forum and what kind of feedback did you receive?
HP. Having seen the diverse multifaceted presentations and discussions about “Role Models ‘ Examples from the World of Football” there remains the impressive understanding: a huge number of organisations and institutions from around the world are committed to the well-being, encourage all children and young people in areas hit by crisis and war. The common ground and basis of all initiatives are the unifying and inspiring force and emotionality of a true world sport ‘ football.
We could achieve our target to its full extent. The feedback we received was very positive, and the majority of delegates would like to join the next forum.
- FIM awards ceremony recognised the community work of Liverpool Football Club and the corporate social responsibility of Real Madrid’s world-wide work. How important is it for professional football clubs promote social inclusion?
HP. People are highly social; they generally belong to a group. This may make a positive or a negative impact on young people.
Football and the big clubs play an important role in this point.
They can, with their social work and their behavior towards their fellow men, play an important role regarding education, development and integration. We hope to celebrate the good work football clubs achieve at top level and grass roots level, they are the same.
Q. The role model theme at the Forum was brilliantly illustrated by Don Mullen Irish author of ‘The Boy Who Wanted to Fly’ when he gave an emotional speech about his role model Gordon Banks. Why do you think role models are important in the game?
HP. Parents and educators have a limited impact on their children regarding the choice of their role models. Children can have difficult choices and some role models can be challenging which can be a concern. Learning from role models, especially complex figures that are still maturing in public arenas, needs the sport to provide guidance; for instance, social responsibilities, public service and promoting fair play on and off the pitch. Furthermore, high profile role models’ behavior towards specific persons or groups can have a massive positive effect and we need to nurture this. Children aspire to GREATNESS, including these of football stars. A football star should be aware of his role! The forum was about people and organisations which brought and still bring an exemplary service free of selfish motives for young people from troubled or peripheral regions or young people with or without disability. This work is getting more and more important in today’s society.
Q. Can you tell us about the previous projects undertaken in Kosovo, Sudan, Israel/Palestine and Sierra Leone? What do these projects have in common?
HP. Football is the engine to implement social aspects. Football is a school of life! When playing football, the skin colour, the religion and gender is irrelevant. This tool can and should be used to help young people with development and furtherance.
This is just the way the projects were planned and conducted. Notwithstanding that every region had different problems; the work could be conducted in a long-term and successful way. The key is football to unlock the door to development.
Q. How can clubs and other organisations support the good work of FIM?
HP. “together we are stonger”
The organisations need to communicate more with each other and could eventually work on common projects. A visit of the next International Forum would be very helpful. Keep in touch with our website http://footballismore.org/index.html
The clubs and NGO’s can touch base with us and we try to establish the right connections.
Q. Who are the volunteers that support FIM and what do they bring to the Foundation?
For our projects we rely on volunteers in different areas. Longer personal commitments are acknowledged through FOOTBALL IS MORE reports and certificates. Without our volunteers, some of our projects could not be implemented. Our volunteers are very important to us.
Q. FIM Patron Wilfred Lemke, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, appealed to the delegates to support the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Are their plans for FIM to support MDG, if so, how?
HP. We consider the MDG in each project and try to implement them successfully. We are very proud of the work of the UN in sport for Development FIM hope to support this with our projects.
Q. As you know FIM share many aims of the NCFA. You state that FIM aim to, ‘Provide conditions in order to reach concrete social projects realistically. Projects, which focus on the integration of disadvantaged children and young people’. How do you intend to go about this good work in the current economic climate?
HP. That’s a good question. Indeed, the economic situation is not really good. But we know that especially in such hard times people are moving towards each other and searching for solutions. This is why we hope to work with the NCFA and explore how we can make a difference.
Q. As you know providing a voice for children in football is no easy task. How do you think FIM and NCFA can make governments sit up and actively support our work on an international level?
HP. I believe that we have to continue our work and engage the politics at a level where they can support projects. They have to feel that some problems cannot be resolved on a political level, but with football it is possible.
Q. In your opinion is there scope for an International Children’s Football Alliance that could represent children on a global platform? An organisation that supports the world’s extended children’s football family and reinforces all the good work being done by organisations such as FIM.
HP. NCFA should ally with international organisations. I very much hope that FIM and NCFA implement some great projects.
Q. Is there a FIM project that we can lookout for in the future and how might we be able to support it?
HP. FIM is strongly focused on the integration/migration of disabled and non-disabled young people.
With the partnership programme of FOOTBALL IS MORE, clubs and NGOs will be supported in order to help them in their work with disabled young people. The focus is on the exchange of knowledge, the development and the promotion of the integration of young disabled people within clubs. It is this aspect that I believe we can achieve with collaboration.