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Two worlds - Alexander Esswein visits Kickfair and Delta Cultura

This summer, Common Goal player Alexander Esswein visited football for good organisations Kickfair and Delta Cultura. Kickfair, based in Southern Germany, uses football as a way of giving all young people, regardless of income, sex, or disability, an opportunity to succeed in life; Delta Cultura, based on the small island of Cape Verde, is using the game as tool to get young people off the streets and educate them for a better future.

Originally from Worms, Germany, Alexander began his footballing career with the youth team of FC Kaiserslautern. He has since played for several renowned clubs in the Bundesliga and is currently with Hertha BSC. Alexander has long felt a calling towards supporting and empowering disadvantaged youth, and with Common Goal, he found an impactful way to do it.

Alexander explains why he wanted to join the movement: “I joined Common Goal, because it offers a solution to what I’ve wanted to do for a long time: to give back and to support kids in disadvantaged and difficult situations through football. From when I was a young kid I could never put the ball aside. This passion and my support network have brought me a long way. Through Common Goal, I want to make sure that more kids with this passion are able to also access this kind of support network.”

Alexander started his trip in Speyer where Kickfair organised a tournament between two schools. The tournament was an opportunity for pupils of both schools to show off the confidence and skills they have gained through football despite dealing with disabilities. On the day of the tournament, Alexander dove straight in, learned about the football3 (fair play football) method, how the tournament was organised (which was done by the youngsters) and, of course, played a bit of football with the kids. The initial shyness of the children soon gave way to their enthusiasm to have a professional footballer join them for this special tournament.

Check out a brief interview with Alexander below:

On the second part of his trip, Alexander travelled with his mother Renate to experience the work of Delta Cultura in Cape Verde. The trip was organised by the third half, a Common Goal partner company that specialises on football themed travel adventures with a social purpose.

Alexander on his first impressions of Delta Cultura:

“I was really impressed by the children. When I stepped into the centre, their faces lit up with smiles. I didn’t do anything just came here to play football with them. And even without the same language, on the court when we played five-on-five football, it just worked. We defended together, we celebrated together, it was just easy. That’s truly the most beautiful thing about football.”

Renate and Alexander spent one week with the organisation where they learnt about Delta Cultura’s different education programmes and spent time getting to know the kids and staff. They got to see firsthand Delta Cultura’s educational programmes around music, languages, school tutoring, art and, of course, football.

“Marisa and Florian (the founders of Delta Cultura) were incredible. They took amazing care of us, showed us around the organisation and welcomed us as if we were part of the family. It really exceeded our expectations.” Renate Esswein reflects on the trip. “It was a complete change of perspective seeing what children in Cape Verde have to struggle with compared to our daily lives back in Germany.”

But the Essweins were not the only ones who were glad they embarked on this visit. Florian, co-founder of Delta Cultura, and the staff at Delta Cultura were as thrilled for the footballer’s visit:

“We had a fantastic time with Alexander and Renate, they are such lovely people and were so interested in supporting the children but also the rest of the team. It was a truly special week for the whole organisation.“

“In the mornings, the kids waited for us to go back to play football and we hardly ever stopped kicking”, Alex remembers laughing and with a smile in his eyes. “It was really like some of them became my younger brothers and sisters. Now that I have seen the work of this organisation, I feel like I have even more of a responsibility. I have experienced what I can do with such small things: just by giving my time and being here. I will never forget the smiles in the children’s faces when we played together. It is definitely not the last time that I will have visited an organisation like this. I’m very happy to have had this experience.”

Besides learning more about the organisation’s work, getting to know the children and the team, and even getting creative by painting the music room, one of Alexander’s favourite parts was interviewing one of the young men who work at Delta Cultura:

Gilson da Costa, who originally participated in one of Delta Cultura’s education programmes, now serves as a programme coordinator for the organisation. Listen to Alexander’s and Gilson’s chat below:

We are very glad that Alexander and Renate had an opportunity to experience first hand how the game can be used for good. Thank you Alexander and Renate for spending time with the organisations and the kids they help!

We hope that many more Common Goal members and football fans from around the world will follow in the Essweins’ footsteps for a chance to experience the impact of Common Goal supported organisations first hand.

Common Goal is uniting the football community in tackling the greatest social challenges of our time. And we can use your help. Join the team at www.common-goal.org. If you are interested in taking a trip with our partners at the third half and see the inspiring work of football for good organisations in action, get in touch with us at info@common-goal.org.

Originally published at medium.com on July 14, 2018.

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