Via the ‘Kids Clubs’, children and young people have the opportunity to enjoy new experiences and engage in learning programmes with the help of their favourite teams, and over 120,000 children are now enrolled in the country’s 32 Kids Clubs.
As the country's national sport, football in Germany is enormously popular, especially among children, and professional players are revered by the nation's football-crazy youth. In this regard, clubs from Germany’s top two leagues, as well as from the third tier, offer educational programmes for supporters between the ages of five and 13, and it comes as no surprise that kids from all over Germany actively participate.
Three Bundesliga outfits founded the first Kids Clubs in 2004, and today there are 32 working closely together and pursuing educational goals formed in consultation with other organisations. Kids meet regularly for activities and social interaction, but not all of what they do is centred around football. Groups often visit museums and libraries or take part in competitions such as painting and reading. Gatherings between Kids Clubs from different cities are becoming ever more frequent, and there is an annual summer camp at which children from across the country can meet fellow Kids Club members.
Spreading the right message
Of paramount importance for the clubs is not how each child performs but that he or she has fun, engaging with others and enjoying new experiences. The Kids Clubs form a key base of a professional team’s support base, since they are the fans of tomorrow. Indeed, as the old adage goes, “You have one club your whole life.”
A central tenet of the work that the Kids Clubs do is to encourage tolerance and acceptance of organisations affiliated to other clubs. This helps to ensure children are educated to reject the idea of resentment of a rival club from an early age, whilst also opening their eyes to dismiss any other forms of discrimination, such as racism. Additionally, themes such as health and nutrition, exercise and protecting the environment are included in their learning programmes.
However, the overriding motivation behind every one of the activities is to have fun. The Kids Clubs are just another method in which German football clubs safeguard the interests of the fans that make up the foundation of the nation’s vibrant, World Cup-winning game.