A project from Germany, 'Kick-off for a new life', has won the Best Grassroots Project prize in the 2019 UEFA Grassroots Awards for its work to rehabilitate young prison inmates.
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A project from Germany, 'Kick-off for a new life', is the worthy winner of the Best Grassroots Project prize in the 2019 UEFA Grassroots Awards for its tireless work to rehabilitate young prison inmates.
'Kick-off for a new life' uses football as a catalyst to prepare inmates for release, help them find employment and reduce re-offending by offering football, education and social integration modules.
Together with a close network of partners, the German Football Association's (DFB) Sepp Herberger Foundation, which runs the project, works in 22 prisons across Germany. Some 300 young inmates are taking part in the initiative.
DFB vice-president and Sepp Herberger Foundation chairman Eugen Gehlenborg explains the project's purpose: "We are successfully getting through to young people through football, and through football we are teaching them important life lessons.
"In the same way that you can't play football without rules – it needs them – a life in society is also bound up in the need for rules in order to cope. And that is what this project is teaching through football."
Regular football training, coaching or refereeing courses are offered to encourage values such as fair play and team spirit. Education sessions help to increase inmates' employment opportunities, while social integration programmes that provide anti-violence training or use experiential training methods, for example, foster their holistic personal development.
"We want to improve the professional status and qualifications of these people, their school grades and certificates," says Gehlenborg. "And, naturally, we try to offer sport as a basis for this, and that is where we work with our most important partners, the federal employment agency and the justice ministry, as well as with clubs across the country.
"The teams subsequently help these youngsters find their way back into society. We often go into the prisons for young people with some of the sport's most famous personalities, [legendary former Germany striker] Uwe Seeler and [renowned coach] Otto Rehhagel, for example, and talk to the young inmates, and try to motivate these youngsters to take their chance, and make sure they 'kick-off for a new life'."
UEFA Grassroots Awards
The Best Grassroots Project prize rewards outstanding grassroots football projects which demonstrate innovation or social responsibility.
The UEFA Grassroots Awards have been run annually since 2010. The awards reward excellence in the grassroots field, and national associations from around Europe are invited to put forward candidates each year. UEFA's Executive Committee ratifies the awards following recommendations made by the UEFA Grassroots Panel bureau and the UEFA Development and Technical Assistance Committee.