Last week, Football Beyond Borders welcomed a group of 11 students and 2 teachers from the Rotteck-Gymnasium school in Freiburg for the second part of our #FBBSchools international exchange programme between England and Germany. The first part led 14 students from Chestnut Grove Academy in Balham to Germany last summer for a memorable trip. You can watch the FBB TV video about that journey here. In this article FBB’s official “Tour Guide” and volunteer Thomas Farines tells the story of the return leg – how would our German friends from Freiburg enjoy their visit to the home of football?
All in all it was a fantastic week! The group of students received a football-rich experience, as they were treated to tours of Wembley and the Emirates Stadium as well as attending the Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham. A particular highlight included an FBB Unity Cup hosted at Colney Heath football club which brought together young people from London, Hertfordshire and Freiburg. You can watch a video about this below:
For the students from the FBB Schools programme at Chestnut Grove their experience of Germany had been extremely positive and some even went to a professional football game for the first time in their lives. It was our goal at FBB to make the return visit to London unforgettable for the group of people who received us so well. So FBB staff and volunteers planned activities together with FBB partners to provide a great footballing experience of London.
The Germans arrived from Freiburg on Thursday and were received by founder Jasper Kain together with head of coaching Jack Badu at Victoria’s station. They then proceeded to Brixton based restaurant where a group of FBB’s staff awaited them for a welcome meal. They had the opportunity to meet FBB staff and talk about their expectations for the trip. After the meal the group split up and were taken to their host homes for the first time.
Before moving towards the football part of the trip the Germans visited some of the top tourist spots that London has to offer such as the Tower Bridge and Parliament. Next stop on the trip was an exclusive tour of Arsenal’s stadium facilitated by our friends at Arsenal in the Community.
After visiting the city and the stadium, it was time for them to play football. They took a train towards Colney Heath FC ground in order to participate in the fourth Unity Cup organised by FBB. The level of football played and the warm reception from the Colney Heath fans and members of staff made for a memorable night.
It’s is great to see kids from different backgrounds getting together to play football.
That’s the real power of football: bringing people together
On the way back from Colney Heath to London, you could feel the excitement of the Germans because of the next day program featured a trip to watch their first ever Premier League match! We met them in front of Stamford Bridge to watch the Chelsea match against West Ham.
I am very excited to be here and to be able to watch Chelsea
Antonio, Left Winger
Some of the German young expressed their surprise by the lack of atmosphere in the stadium – German football stadium culture is clearly very different! The day ended with a meal at our partners Café Football whilst watching France against England for the six nations.
On Sunday, it was time for a trip to Croydon, home of some of the first ever FBB Schools project at Archbishop Lanfranc academy. Students and staff played a friendly on the school’s astroturf, which was also followed by another before friendly game against the Chestnut Grove team coached by teacher Saquib Malik. With the presence of FBB founder Jasper Kain as referee, the Freiburg team went on to win a thrilling game by 6 goals to 5.
For their last day in London, they started the day with a workshop on statistical football analysis delivered by our partners Football Radar. The German youngsters were pleased that the workshop included an in-depth analysis of the 2014 World Cup Semi Final between Brazil and Germany! Football Radar’s staff also invited them to participate in a competition to predict the outcome of the Euro 2016 using Football Radar’s own database. After this exciting workshop for the visitors from Freiburg proceeded towards Wembley, the home of English football. After a fascinating introduction by our Wembley based education partners UCFB, it was time for the students to tour the stadium built on the same site where their team lost the 1966 World Cup Final.
Some might say we kept the best for the end and for their final evening of the trip we got together at Zeitgeist, a German pub located in Vauxhall to watch the “Baden Classico” between Freiburg and Karlsruhe. It was a fairytale ending as Freiburg won the match to go top of the German second division and with that result we said farewell to this wonderful group of Germans.
FBB’s Head of Partnerships and resident German Jasper Schlump was delighted with the whole tour: “It was so good to see a diverse group of young Germans visiting us in London, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. In these times when there are so many forces trying to divide our societies this kind of cultural exchange gave me hope for the future. We need more positive community projects that connect the local to the global and unify future generations beyond borders.”
More tours and exchanges are going to happen in the near future between FBB Schools students and other international projects. If you’d like to support us to make these happen, please donate.