As part of its strategy for the future, TSG Hoffenheim has been engaged on the African continent for years, with projects in Uganda, South Africa, Namibia and, since the beginning of this year, it has been working on an initiative in east Africa that combines sport and education: The Bundesliga Youth Ambassador programme in Kenya uses football as a catalyst for social change and forms an important cornerstone of the “TSG is movement” strategy.
What does internationalisation mean for TSG Hoffenheim? The answer is relatively simple. It is not about foreign shirt sales or international PR trips, but above all it is about taking on social responsibility and establishing perspectives in a sporting and non-sporting context. This is particularly reflected in Africa as a field of action within its future strategy, which aims to drive innovation, promote movement and to make a difference socially and environmentally.
One of these projects is the “Bundesliga Youth Ambassador” programme – a training initiative launched in February by street football world (SFW), Transforming Young Stars of Africa (TYSA), Bundesliga International and TSG Hoffenheim. This initiative is giving 34 young women and men in Kenya the opportunity to go through an 18-month programme to expand their knowledge, develop skills and thus act as role models within their communities through various workshops in the fields of life skills, equality and football & coaching. The BUYAs – as the participants from the age of 18 to 25 call themselves – work as coaches themselves and are involved in their organisations with a large number of social and sports projects that benefit all the members of their communities.
TSG driving innovation
The role of TSG Hoffenheim is very special in this context, since it has a unique approach compared with many other Bundesliga teams and uses its core competence – football – to address social issues by educating coaches and with coaching workshops, thus contributing to sustainable development.
Max Roth (sports coordinator at the TSG football school), who supervises the project on the TSG side together with Tony Mamodaly (head of international operations) and Yannick Wöppel (TSG football school), is enthusiastic about the commitment of the BUYAs: “It is a great privilege to be part of this project. Football makes a positive contribution to personal and social development around the world and we believe it is the best tool for reaching out to other people and teaching values. We are implementing a concept that is not followed by many clubs – linking football to social challenges and thus strengthening community living.” The programme is coordinated by one of the leading international NGOs street football world, which was founded in 2002 and is now active in more than 86 countries, and TYSA – a local organisation in Kenya.
Continuing despite lockdowns
At the end of February, before the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the TSG team were guests at the kick-off event in Nairobi and were able to bring the philosophy and training principles of TSG Hoffenheim closer to the BUYAs at a five-day workshop. Training tailored to children, the combination of sports and development as well as insights into the world of a Bundesliga club were among the topics of the kick-off event, at which the participants could develop their qualifications as coaches in theory and practice and show what they had learned directly on the pitch. The training programme looks to generate multiplier effects so that over the planned project period and beyond, thousands and thousands of children and young people can be reached directly and indirectly.
With the global coronavirus crisis and the cancellation of the planned training courses in May and September, the continuation of the project initially appeared as a mammoth task. But despite the big challenges, the team of sfw, TYSA and TSG managed to continue almost all the activities digitally: “At the end of March, we were faced with the question: how can we carry on the project despite the lockdown and continue to help and support all the participants? We were in constant contact with the BUYAs, their mentors and our partners from sfw, who have managed to build an online learning platform in a very short space of time and thus continue the program via virtual formats – so of course we were very pleased and it worked perfectly.”
After numerous webinars and weekly video challenges, the next highlight was at the end of September: the first digital meeting with TSG first-team player Kasim Adams, who talked in an exciting Q&A session about his career, his greatest successes, but also about personal setbacks and hurdles on the way to becoming a football professional and spoke to the BUYAs about current social problems such as poverty or racism. Last week, the project team launched the next digital module “Football4Good”, which kicked off November with a joint Zoom Live workout.
More about the project and the BUYAs
If you would like to find out more about the Bundesliga Youth Ambassadors and the project, you can visit the Bundesliga homepage. The next part of our series “TSG in Kenya” will focus in particular on the commitment of the BUYAs in times of the pandemic. With creative “COVID-19 response projects”, the ambassadors helped raise awareness in their countries.