MUNICH — Philipp Lahm is a retired professional soccer player, former captain of Bayern Munich and the German national team, which he led to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He signed on with the local club FT Gern when he was only five, but started to play soccer, as his mother Daniela said, “in her womb.” His coaches and teammates describe him as a responsible professional and a natural leader. What is less well-known is that he started The Philipp Lahm Foundation to help the children of South Africa after a visit in 2007.
Philipp Lahm made his final appearance on the field in May this year, substituted in the last minutes of the game, with standing ovation, but his humanitarian efforts deserve it also. In June 2007 he visited South Africa to support the FIFA World Cup 2010, but he also took his time to take part in the Kick-AIDS event and to visit the SOS Children´s Village.
He also shows his support being the official ambassador of “FIFA for SOS Children´s Village”, and was rewarded a Talentia-Preis in 2008 for his engagement against the homophobia in sports. This soccer player, a founder of The Philipp Lahm Foundation, has been a well-known supporter of social and humanitarian initiatives for a long time.
After he visited South Africa in the summer of 2007 and saw many children growing up in poverty, with no hope for a better future, he decided to help. At the end of the year, he founded The Philipp Lahm Foundation, determined to offer children in South Africa and in Germany a chance for prosperity through education and sports.
The current focus of The Philipp Lahm Foundation is on the three similar projects, but in different locations: Soccer in Philippi and Shongi Soccer in South Africa, with The Philipp Lahm Sommercamp in Germany.
In those three projects, a sport is a tool, especially for the children from unprivileged families, promoting motivation and the achievement of personal and professional goals. The Philipp Lahm Foundation is trying to create a safe environment for the children, especially in South Africa, building social structures so they can devote their time to the training and education.
In The Sommercamp, children take a part in workshops, games, excursions and meet new friends. The concept was developed by sociologists, educators and sports scientists.
The Shonghi Soccer project started in 2008, with the construction of a sports field near Johannesburg. Since then, this has been a safe place for the children and adolescents, where they can practice soccer and develop their skills. Training is structured and disciplined, and most of the trainers are there from the very beginning and know the children well, always implementing new and interesting challenges.
A similar project took his part in the township of Philippi, near Cape Town, where The Philipp Lahm Foundation is supporting the iThema Labantu soccer club. There, children learn discipline and how to integrate into a group to achieve common goals.
Soccer is one the favorite sports in the South Africa, and supporting local communities with projects like The Philipp Lahm Foundation is priceless. Children in Africa are often growing up in extreme poverty, even left to fend for themselves. Foundations like this one are promoting not just the sports values, but also teaching them about health and discipline more broadly.
Local politicians also got involved, so some of the townships involved have been connected to electricity, bringing new hope for the South African youth and their elders, along with the light in their houses for the first time.
– Edita Jakupovic