The third Ford Company Soccer Cup recently took place in Cologne, giving employees from Ford departments and suppliers the opportunity to demonstrate their skills on the soccer pitch.
After more than seven hours of soccer and 76 games involving 30 teams, Pilot Plant Cologne emerged victorious. They were not the only winners however, because since 2010 the proceeds from team entry fees for the annual Ford competition have funded winter soccer training for local young people thanks to the efforts of Ford employee Gert Nettesheim.
Gert, who is a site management analyst at Ford’s Merkenich facility, Cologne, first started a Community Involvement project for financially disadvantaged young footballers three years ago, and engaged the assistance of 50 community-spirited Ford employees to help with training sessions.
As a very active soccer player and president of the CfB Ford Niehl soccer club where he plays along with his 10-year-old son, Gert was keen to help local young people to enjoy the sport, too. “It feels like a second home,” said Gert of his soccer club. “The project is a great success and I cannot thank the Ford employees enough for their giving up their free time”.
During the summer months, the training sessions take place on the CfB club grounds, but an alternative location is required to ensure the scheme can continue through the winter. This is where the proceeds from the annual Ford Company Soccer Cup prove vital.
The money raised from the 3rd Ford Company Soccer Cup will pay for training to take place on the indoor pitches at “Soccer World”, Cologne, during the winter of 2012/13.
Encouraged by the success of the Community Initiative and impressed by the improving abilities of the young footballers involved, Gert began to plan a huge football tournament for youth teams from across Europe with players between the ages of eight and 11.
The Ford Junior Indoor Masters event was made possible thanks to the efforts of Gert, a small army of volunteers to help with logistics and offering accommodation, and sponsorship from companies including Cologne’s “Wiener Steffie”. Young footballers from the 64 teams that entered were also able to visit Cologne’s Olympia Museum.
The competition was a huge success, and resulted in professional soccer club 1. FC Köln approaching Gert to offer a partnership for youth soccer sponsorship in future.