'Be the best version of yourself'
When many were still unaware of how devastating the growth of the coronavirus pandemic would become, Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka took action and founded the "WeKickCorona" campaign. The two Bayern stars provided €1 million as start-up capital. It paid off. You kick Corona - and then some: By the end of April, the donations had grown to over €4 million.
Kimmich and Goretzka have invested something very precious in the fight against the pandemic: their time. "It was important for us not just to say: there's the money, distribute it," said Kimmich. "We wanted to decide for ourselves where the donations would go," explained Goretzka. Often people never really know what will happen to their money if they want to put it to good use. "We see ourselves as responsible," added Kimmich. And so, the two of them have regularly been sitting at home on their laptops after training sessions. They register the donations, check inquiries from charitable and non-profit organisations and then take care of things. "We hope that we can do something good," said Kimmich.
The list of prominent supporters is long
If you click on the homepage of the initiative, the pictures of prominent supporters move over the screen in quick succession. Hansi Flick, Leroy Sané, Mats Hummels, Giulia Gwinn, Lina Magull, tennis star Alexander Zverev, ski idol Felix Neureuther, actor Florian David Fitz and many more - the legendary Montagskicker veteransfrom the Säbener Straße also donated, and most important to the two founders: many, many individuals. Over 3,500 donations have come from people who are currently having to worry about their own finances a little more than usual. "This help and support affects us personally the most," said Kimmich.
Goretzka thinks there is a lot to learn from this coronavirus crisis. "On the one hand, we should praise the politics that are often only complained about. We can be thankful we live in a welfare state like Germany," he said, "and secondly, I was not aware how many people across Germany were willing to do good, on a voluntary basis, without being paid for it - that really blew me away." Kimmich shook his head when asked whether he was afraid of the future. No, he said, "I have more hope. Until now I had the feeling that we lived in a world where growth was the only thing that mattered. Now we are experiencing a deceleration - and solidarity among people. I think everyone is learning to appreciate things again. And handle things with care."
FC Bayern supports the "WeKickCorona" initiative by selling protective masks:
Uli Hoeneß called Kimmich a few days after the start of the campaign, he spoke to Goretzka on voicemail. "I thanked both of them because I think it's exemplary how they are using this initiative for society," said the honorary president, "they are absolutely the personalities we would like them to be at FC Bayern." The association contributes the profit from the sale of its community mask production. "This initiative is great proof that our professionals act as role models in society and show solidarity in this crisis," said CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Prototype of the politically aware athlete
The senior figures believe of these characters are wanted in the football world. They fit the zeitgeist of a new generation taking to the streets for environmental problems and global justice: prototypes of the politically aware, modern athlete who imbues football with community values in a way that is not merely driven by allure or commerce. As well as the two "WeKickCorona" founders, Thomas Müller with his down-to-earth authenticity, Manuel Neuer with his outspoken opinions, and the cosmopolitan Thiago also belong in this category, to name just a few. They all stand for the right thing, just as it should be. Goretzka sums it up: "You try to be the best version of yourself."
It was important to the two initiative founders that they could help unbureaucratically. Kimmich was surprised at how quickly everything went: "After a donation request and the subsequent checks, there is a return call, and the donation is paid out immediately." In many cases, there is a sense of urgency. "The coronavirus is tearing many big holes economically," said Goretzka, who is looking carefully to the future: "We've focused on projects in Germany because we want to help quickly and transparently. But the politicians have to look at the bigger picture at some point. I think an umbrella plan for Europe should be discussed. Solidarity does not end at your own front door."