Lutz Pfannenstiel: ‘‘A great starter before the main course“

Lutz Pfannenstiel is responsible for international relations at TSG. Moreover, the former goal-keeper is primarily involved in the protection of the environment and climate in southern Africa with his charity Global United. Before the charity match against Viva con Agua on Saturday at 12:00 CEST at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena, Pfannenstiel spoke about the importance of the project, co-operating with TSG and the quality of football on display.

Lutz, you’ve got an all-star squad together for Saturday’s game versus Global United in the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena. Who’s playing and have they still got the skills?

Lutz Pfannenstiel: We actually have a really good squad with several famous footballers. Guido Buchwald was a World Cup winner in 1990, Fredi Bobic was a European champion in 1996 and that’s naming only two who have had success at the absolutely highest level. Also, we’ve got Philipp and David Degen who haven’t been retired for long. They’re still full of energy. Beyond that, Jens Nowotny and Cacau are also playing. Cacau is unbelievably fit and I think he would still score goals in most leagues around the world. Fredi Bobic is also as fit now as he has been in a long time. However, it doesn’t stop at the starting XI. We have a good bench too. All of them will come on and give the crowd something worth seeing.

Viva con Agua also have some good footballers on their side. Who do you think will provide you with the most problems in goal?

Pfannenstiel: It has to be Kevin Kuranyi. He was only at TSG recently and unfortunately he was unable to score at the Arena.  Maybe that changes on Saturday! (smiles) I watched him a few times at VfB Stuttgart where he scored when he wanted. Of course, Arne Friedrich has an unbelievable amount of quality too. Although, some of Viva con Agua’s team are better singers, rappers or writers than football players (smiles). Therefore, we’re the clear favourites.

The game is about raising money for a good cause. What have you done for the charity?

Pfannenstiel: The organisation was formed in 2009 and it’s difficult to summarise in a few sentences what we do. We also have projects in Germany but first and foremost we care about the protection of the environment and climate in southern Africa. There are many things there that we want to fundamentally change. In many parts of southern Africa, they lack the most basic things – food, clean water, medical care and education.  That is what we’re concerned about. Looking after the environment isn’t as important there as it’s primarily about survival. Therefore, it was clear to us from the start that we have to give everything to help the children so they can go to school. Hopefully that will lead them to living better lives in the future.

Why is giving back so important for you?

Pfannenstiel: As a player, I played across the entire world and was able to get to know many great countries and great people. However, I’ve also been able to see that there are some not so nice things and big problems in other parts of the world. We harm our planet a lot. It’s from this observation that Global United was established. Football has similar projects such as those against racism which have gained strength. I want to use this strength to kick-start the issue of protecting the environment. We all have a responsibility for our planet and the next generation. We should leave the Earth healthier and more beautiful than we found it. It’s a very important aim which we should all work together towards.  

How is the work with TSG going?

Pfannenstiel:  Hoffenheim and the Dietmar Hopp Foundation are two of our biggest partners. For example, we initiated the successful GeeOm project in Namibia together. The project already has a good reputation in Africa after only a short period of time. We want to continue to increase our cooperation with one another so we can utilise the strength of football and of TSG to help a good cause. Our connection is really tight; we play most of our charity games in TSG shirts and I feel that the whole club finds our cause important.

Viva con Agua is also involved in a good cause. How did you come to arrange this friendly?

Pfannenstiel: Viva con Agua is our official partner in terms of water and drinking water. The earnings from Saturday’s game go towards a project in Uganda where we’ll build a drinking water well. When it comes to environmental protection, water is one of the key areas. There are areas around the world where there is a continuous lack of water available. For instance, Namibia experienced one of the largest droughts of the last 100 years. Viva con Agua quickly made a good name for itself in the affected area as they are a widely diverse organisation with great communication. Football is the vehicle of change but musicians and other artists are involved too. That’s very generous of them. TSG face their last practice match on Saturday before the start of the season and our game is a great starter before the main course – Hoffenheim vs. Bologna. The football itself is in the background but I’m certain we can still offer up a treat for children, young people and families. No matter what, we’ll all have fun on the pitch.

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