UEFA has awarded the “In safe hands” association with the “Foundation for Children Award”. DFB President Fritz Keller presented the certificate, endowed with 50,000 euros, to Jonas Ermes at the DFB headquarters in Frankfurt. The former goalkeeper of VfL Bochum founded the club, which has been supported by the DFL Foundation since 2016, five years ago together with Andreas Luthe, today’s goalkeeper of FC Augsburg.
During the corona crisis, the social engagement of professional football came into the media’s focus. The national team donated 2.5 million Euros, Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich launched the “WeKickCorona” campaign and all 36 professional clubs in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 started a wide range of support campaigns.
Suddenly, one could get this impression, if professional football had woken up and discovered its responsibility for society. But the impression is deceptive. The Manuel Neuer Kids Foundation, foundations of national players such as Toni Kroos and Matthias Ginter or the involvement of Jonathan Tah in the DFB Foundation Egidius Braun are just a few examples that demonstrate that the best footballers in Germany are aware of their particular responsibility even before the Corona Pandemic were very aware. And have been following her for many years. They help the weakest and make an invaluable contribution to society.
“Using football to support children in their development”
In 2015, Andreas Luthe and Jonas Ermes also asked themselves how they could use the unique and connecting power of football. The two goalkeepers got to know each other during their time together at VfL Bochum and decided to found the club “In safe hands”. Their vision: an unprejudiced and appreciative intercultural coexistence!
“Since my experiences at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria, I have had the desire to use football to help children develop and enrich their lives,” said Ermes, who hung up his football boots a year ago. “When the refugee movement reached its peak in summer 2015 and thousands of children were robbed of their childhood, I finally wanted to take action and realize my wish.” Together with Luthe, who has been under contract with FC Augsburg since 2016, he continuously developed the approaches. In the meantime, Ermes is full-time chairman, writes funding applications, builds networks and designs new pilot projects. The club has developed into a social start-up, says the 28-year-old.
In addition to the “Foreign Becomes Friend” project, which builds bridges between children of different origins in a playful manner, and “Home Time”, which helps families and children during the Corona crisis, the focus is currently on the “Bunter Ball” project, the the DFL Foundation has been funding since last year. The foundation has been supporting the Luthe and Ermes run association since 2016. “‘In safe hands’, the ‘Bunter Ball’ project makes a valuable contribution to the personal development of children. I was able to personally convince myself of the special atmosphere and appreciation that the children experience there,” said Stefan Kiefer, CEO of the DFL Foundation, endowment.
“Promoting social cohesion with football”
This project is a sports pedagogical working group at primary schools in Bochum. The aim is to promote children’s emotional, social and intercultural skills in order to prevent anti-social and discriminatory behavior. As of the new school year, the project will reach five schools and 13 classes a week. “I believe that every child deserves the chance to grow up in an appreciative and respectful environment and to live their dreams,” says Luthe, who as part of the “Foreign Becomes Friend” project in Augsburg regularly with the children and young people at the Training place stands. With “In safe hands” he wants to give as many children as possible a chance for the future.
An approach that Fritz Keller is also enthusiastic about. The DFB had submitted “In safe hands” to UEFA as a candidate. “It is impressive how much dedication the two founders Andreas Luthe and Jonas Ermes are doing for the good cause,” said the DFB president. “Your club is a role model of how football can promote social cohesion.” He was all the more pleased to be able to hand over the UEFA Foundation for Children Award certificate, which comes with a € 50,000 grant, to Jonas Ermes. “We want to use the money to develop our “Bunter Ball “project further,” explains Ermes. “It is very important to Andreas and me to measure the impact of our projects transparently. We want to ensure quality and train employees.”
Stefan Kiefer is also looking forward to further cooperation. “The UEFA Foundation for Children Award, to which we warmly congratulate, speaks for the relevance and effectiveness of the project.” An effect that should be extended to all of Germany. Together with network partners, the project models developed by “In safe hands” could soon be used in other cities. Within a few years, Ermes and Luthe successfully pushed ahead with the development of their initial idea. “We really enjoy our work,” says Ermes. “Andreas and I would therefore like to get involved in the long term.”