Heartfelt help from FC Bayern
Solidarity is one of the core values of our club, and FC Bayern Hilfe eV proves this year after year. A trip to visit good friends in Harlaching.
The pictures on the first floor of the Bavarian State School for the Physically Disabled in Munich are works of art, no question about it: creative, colourful, inspiring - and they have a leitmotif that leaves immense room for dreams, for vision. The pupils who have designed part of the corridor call their class "Astronaut Class", a corresponding poster adorns their door. And their pictures are all about outer space. The idea came from Florian, as the pupil in his FC Bayern jersey with the number eight tells us confidently. How did he come up with this theme? "I read a lot about Neil Armstrong," he explains. "He was the first man on the moon - I think that's cool." A good role model who showed that there's more than just this world open to you, that there's infinite space out there waiting to be explored.
On this day, Johannes Nauerz is showing a special visitor around the school, which, according to the director, was the first of its kind in the world. In 1832, the institution was founded on Rindermarkt so that people with physical disabilities could receive an education and take care of themselves. Since 1913, the school has had its home in Kurzstraße in Munich's Untergiesing-Harlaching district - just a few minutes' walk from Säbener Straße. During the tour, Nauerz points to a black and white photograph from the old days in the stairwell: the imposing school building stands alone in a wide open space, the picture was taken approximately from where the FC Bayern club grounds are today.
Neighbourhood assistance from the footballers from Säbener Straße
It has an impressive history, and from the 1960s onwards, a neighbourhood assistance scheme was established with the footballers from Säbener Straße. Karl Hopfner, whom Nauerz is showing around the building today, is familiar with this tradition: "Around the time we were promoted to the Bundesliga, our players used to come by, and over time a sponsorship developed without it ever being written down on paper." As chairman of the board of FC Bayern Hilfe eV, Hopfner is a regular guest at the state school, where girls and boys between the ages of three and 21 are educated. This year, too, he took along a cheque for €30,000 shortly before Christmas - donations, mainly from members of FC Bayern.
Hilfe eV was founded in 2005, prompted by the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia. The first donations were used to rebuild villages in Sri Lanka, and over the course of time, the organisation dedicated itself to helping people in need in general. The idea of mobility is at the centre of the sponsorship, because that is what sport is all about: bringing people together, so that no one is alone. Anyone can apply, as long as they can prove they are actively trying to find a solution themselves. Around 350 applications are received each year, and not every one of them necessarily has to have mobility as an overriding motive - the procedure is not that dogmatic. This summer, for example, FC Bayern Hilfe eV handed over €100,000 to victims of the Bavarian floods, and when many fans waived the refund of their ticket purchases for the Allianz Arena at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, FC Bayern AG forwarded the money to Hilfe eV. This money was then used to support the Bavarian regional and Bayernliga teams as well as mainstream sport across the state. "This is solidarity in action," says Hopfner.
„This is solidarity in action.”
The Landesschule has been a constant at Hilfe eV for many years. Out of tradition, because of the closeness they have to each other - and because it's a prime example of making people mobile and bringing them together. "Inclusion is a hopeless issue," says Nauerz. But the 340 young people here are well prepared for life. The regular donations from FC Bayern are a great help to the education staff. The money is invested in many different ways. This year, tools are on the wish list, as Nauerz tells us on the tour. In the cellar, girls and boys are eagerly working on bicycles and wheelchairs, but the working group could repair a lot more if they had more hammers, pliers and screwdrivers. This wish will now be fulfilled. This is an important help, Nauerz tells us. "Being a vehicle mechanic is definitely a career option for some here later on."
A major project around five years ago was digitalisation. It, too, was implemented thanks to donations from the German record champions. 30 classrooms and seven specialist rooms are now equipped with digital boards, which make life considerably easier and - by a lucky coincidence - turned out to be a special blessing during the coronavirus pandemic. During a class visit, Hopfner, who well remembers the "immense effort of this undertaking with all the cables in the walls", is also called to the front of the class: Under the eyes of the children, he now has to decide whether a clown belongs in the school or not. "Dear boys and girls, you have to help me," the former FCB president asks. A clown is not part of the lesson, the pupils explain to their guest. With his index finger, Hopfner therefore drags the clown picture from the middle of the whiteboard into the zone marked red - things that make a sensible contribution in school, on the other hand, would be placed in the green zone. On the wall of the classroom hang pictures with the sign language alphabet, between the windows a hand-painted poster catches the eye: "We stay cool" it says, and "We are a team". Slogans like those of FC Bayern.
Interns Alaba and Badstuber
Hopfner visits the school time and again with players, but during the pandemic this hasn't been possible. "Everyone is impressed by the terrific work done here," says the long-standing FCB board member, "and I always notice: these visits ground you. I can strongly recommend it to everyone." Nauerz is pleased with the exchange, which is mutually educational: "During their visits, the FC Bayern players become aware that physical performance is an incredibly central element in their lives - in this way, they come from a completely different world than our students. It's terrific to see how people then find each other here." David Alaba did an internship at the state school, as did Mehmet Ekici, and Holger Badstuber as a physiotherapist. Badstuber brought a team poster with him, signed by all the players. It still hangs on the wall today, next to a treadmill. When the children do walking and running exercises, they always have FC Bayern in their field of vision. Recently, during his rehab session, one boy told the therapist in detail which player had moved where over time. He knew everything precisely - and he knew a lot. From back then, only Thomas Müller and Manuel Neuer are still in the squad today.
Of course, FC Bayern is always a topic at school, Nauerz tells us on the tour, while the odd child actually whizzes by in an FCB jersey, as if to prove it. Sixth-grade pupil Marc accompanies the group of visitors on the tour, wearing a red jumper from the record champions. Ludwig drops by with his colleagues Fernando and Loredan from the school newspaper to interview the guest from FCB - he made sure to put on his hoodie from SV Waldperlach, for whom he plays as a right-back. His role models? Benjamin Pavard and Niklas Süle, he answers. From the schoolyard outside, you can hear roosters crowing, and that makes Nauerz smile. With the money from FCB, they've built their own chicken coop, and to support education, they provide care services for the animals on a class-by-class basis, something the pupils place an extremely high value on, as the director reports. They started out with six hens - they actually wanted only hens - but then some eggs hatched and suddenly they also had roosters. Since then, the population of the animals has doubled. But this anecdote also proves how productive and multi-layered the help of FC Bayern Hilfe eV is.
„As you can see here, we can make people's lives easier with simple resources.”
"We can make people's lives easier," says Hopfner at the end of the tour. "With simple resources, as you can clearly see here at the state school." The personnel costs at Hilfe eV are minimal, and he oversees its affairs with his fellow board members Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, as well as Elke Keller, assistant to the FCB president. "That's why every donation goes 100 per cent to those in need, we don't have any deductions," Hopfner adds. "And of course, donations to Hilfe eV can also be claimed against tax." One can only thank everyone again and again, members as well as non-members and fan clubs who, for example, donate the proceeds of Christmas parties and the like. Digital boards, tools, chickens and picture frames, for example, are bought using this kind of donation - frames in which images from the universe are currently hanging. Images that show the pupils of the state school that there are no limits. Not for anyone.
In the summer, FC Bayern Hilfe eV was able to collect €100,000 for the victims of the flood disaster.