GGWCup team from Germany
Team Champions Ohne Grenzen will be playing for Global Goal 12 - responsible consumption and production
About coach Carmen Grimm
I have worked as a coach for ten years now, in different contexts, all of which are meant to pave the path for girls or women that find difficulties, for different reasons, to join the traditional clubbing structures. My main focus for the past couple of years has changed from working with young and teenage girls from my neighbourhood to my work with CHAMPIONS ohne GRENZEN, aiming at finding ways to make football accessible to adult female refugees and also to use football as means to exchange, inspire and support.
What’s special about the team is that the reasons keeping women away from practice go beyond social notions of what women (of a certain age, in Germany) should do or not do. In Germany, all women who want to play football still face homophobic and sexist treatment from clubs and federations, a lack of representation and visibility resulting, in my case, e.g. in coaching formations with only two women out of 25 participants having to prove their abilities twice as hard. For women that face multiple discriminations due to their refugee status, the situation is even more complex: Obligations resulting from the residential status and German bureaucracy, limitations resulting from their mostly peripheral housing situation, from their families and kids or their health condition make it hard for some women to commit to a weekly practice. Some women also hesitate to try a new sport as an adult and a few women have told us that all their domestic duties were a kind of sport already.
These obstacles however didn’t make us put into question our project, but even made it more critical. We made it our aim to find good answers to any argument that had ever been brought up against attendance: Practice takes place at the most central place in Berlin which also has become a famous spot for new arrivals: Berlin Alexanderplatz. It starts early, so nobody has to go home at night and can bring their children that are taken care of during training. It doesn’t require registration and holds its promise to never change its time and place. The sports ground can be locked in case we don’t want anybody around us during training hours. The instructions are given with the use of my full body, so German skills can be improved but are not required. The sport is being accompanied by activities and council off the pitch. We also motivated women without refugee experiences – for whom this practice is just as much a place to discover their own abilities – to become players. Their attendance is critical to build a space for exchange and a solid team core allowing practice to be fun.
My motivation to be part of this special GGWCup & Erasmus+ Programme project
For me, Champions ohne Grenzen (CHoG) and the participation in the GGWCup is the natural extension of my own experiences of the past 15 years. As a coach I want to change something for other girls and women who, like I was, are the new person in a new neighbourhood slowly discovering the strength of community:
I only got into football at age 14, probably by chance, when we moved from the inner city to Berlin to it’s outskirts. The team that had just opened up there (for girls and women from 13 to 99 years old) soon became an opportunity to explore our differences and slowly, eventually, even erase them. The team was the place where I could be someone else twice a week - another Carmen. Finally there was a place where my nimble feet had purpose and I wasn't just running alone anymore. Football made me feel everything: happy, sad, inspired, confused. I fell in love with the place where my body merged with the team, where I unloaded and took off the backpack of worries and anxieties I carried around. I remember a practice that I attended after a long break: it made me laugh and cry. After that, I vowed never to miss a practice again.
As a coach I know the feeling I want my players to experience. I want them to shed their backpacks and become part of a team body, creating a team with a solid core. As a player I have my own way of evaluating a good training session. It is by a feeling - the feeling is not in the tip of the toes, but in the core. It’s the moment when the body and mind float and nothing weighs on the shoulders. It is when my chest expands to its full volume and my body finds its true contours.
I believe that playing on a football team has shaped my life. It's the place where I got to know what community really means and how it really felt. I therefore am keen to endavour on a way to the Global Goals, using the strength we can only build together.
Meet the team: Champions Ohne Grenzen
Playing for Global Goal 12 - responsible consumption and production
First team member on the team is Roya and she is 13 years old. In the video she tells us about her everyday life, her aims and how she enjoys sports. She thereby tell us about her arrival in Germany three years ago. See the video here.
Supporting organization: CHAMPIONS ohne GRENZEN
CHAMPIONS ohne GRENZEN is a non-profit organization dedicated to designing a more sustainable "welcoming culture" for everybody in the German federal states of Berlin and Brandenburg using sports as main tool for interaction and empowerment. The NGO provides cost-free sports practice and other structures for further orientation and learning for both: traditional sporting structures as well as new arrivals in Berlin.
I have been a football coach for ten years now, having coached and founded several teams that all reach out to girls and women that have limited access to the traditional (white, patriarchal, competitive) club system. I have also worked in the qualification of other coaches for a more gender-sensitive and migration-positive football and in creating networks of female football activists. I have also done anthropological research in the field of football, bodies, gender and migration.
The team CHAMPIONS ohne GRENZEN has now been growing and evolving for 5 years with the most recent change being an all-year indoor practice with diverse sports and child care. Curious where this - and the GGWCup takes us!
Our SDG experience so far is somewhat an indirect one. I do believe that holding a regular practice on an inner-city pitch can provide ways for a more sustainable city, against exclusion, for more gender equality and children's rights.
I however don't believe that sport per se has to be “the universal language” that it is often referred to. Unfortunately, sports do transport strong notions of exclusion. For example, school sports are the spaces in which people outside the norm of abled, white, strong/not too strong, male/female face most discrimination in schools. Sports often serves as “the” example to claim supposed differences between nations, race and gender. It this calls for action and change. With it’s physical aspects and it’s potential to work as a team, football then provides means to tackle it’s inherent contradictions.
The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.