Forward pass for the 'Kicking Girls'.
One-two with the professional.
In the sports hall of a primary school in Ludwigshafen, young football-loving girls enthusiastically dribble balls across the floor. Young girls practise swift passes and deft dribbling in a narrow space. But if you take a closer look, you notice that one pair of boots does not fit in – at least in terms of shoe size. Former national goalkeeper Jens Lehmann coaches the girls in the sports hall of a Ludwigshafen primary school. In terms of sporting performance it is not exactly Champions League, but the social commitment definitely deserves credit to that extent. For the girls taking part, the Germany-wide Laureus project called “Kicking Girls” is something very special.
Getting the ball rolling.
When Jens Lehmann started playing football, it was virtually a men-only sport. Back then, no one had an inkling that Lehmann, born in Essen, would one day play a one-two with girls from underprivileged families all over Germany. He discovered his passion for football when he was only four. At age seventeen, he signed a contract with Schalke 04 football club, entering the world of professional football. From then on, his activities took him all over Europe. First Milan, then a championship with Borussia Dortmund and one with Arsenal in London. For ten years he provided the German national team reliable, strong support and defence at many matches.
Now he wants to provide equal support for the children and adolescents participating in the Laureus project: his outstanding career puts him in a position where he can get more than just one ball rolling.
Sports bring people together.
With emphasis on “fair play”, since 2012 Jens Lehmann has been in charge of the Laureus project together with former female national footballers Nia Künzer and Birgit Prinz. Since it was set up in 2001, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation has put all its strength and the global influence of its famous ambassadors into achieving social change. With the aid of the universal language of sports and social skills training, the children and adolescents are given the message that they are something special, so they can gain self-esteem and hope for a better future. “Kicking Girls” is aimed at girls “from backgrounds where people have migrated out of their home country into Germany. [Their parents] like their girls being coached by girls, as well.
We support that, and I take part as I also have a daughter myself', said Lehmann about the philosophy behind 'Kicking Girls', where the girls train with female coaches and can later train to be coaching assistants themselves.
'I was quite fortunate with my football playing and can afford a nice life for my children. But these people are not that fortunate and so that's why I want to give something back and support this project,' said Jens Lehmann explaining his reasons for supporting the Laureus project.
The active participation and the thoroughly positive response to the project back him up. The project for equal-opportunity sports has successfully kicked off. Lehmann's pass to the forward line has symbolic power: it arrives in precisely the right place and only needs to be converted.