Football

The goalkeeper saving the planet

Published 0921 GMT (1721 HKT) April 21, 2015
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Lutz Pfannenstiel Global United pitchLutz Pfannenstiel Global United pitch
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German footballer Lutz Pfannenstiel, who has played for 25 clubs in a career that has taken him around the world, set up Global United, a charity to raise awareness of climate change, in 2010. Its fifth annual Global Climate Kick, held last month in Namibia, featured fundraising matches and tree planting. It was designed to highlight resource conservation such as recycling and saving water and energy.
This is what an ordinary football looks like -- after it has been used to play a game on a rain-soaked clay pitch. Pfannenstiel explains: "It is normally a very hard, dusty field with red sand but heavy rain made it into a clay field. The ball is a Bundesliga matchball, but the clay got around the ball and it weighed around three kilograms. Some kids washed a second ball so we could change them once in a while, but it was crazy conditions."
Goalkeeper Pfannenstiel gets ready to play against a local side -- which included teachers, park rangers and a veterinary surgeon -- along with fellow Global United founding member Geert Brusselers (center) and former Namibia star Lolo Goraseb.
Pfannenstiel says this image shows him "concentrating and ready to make a save" during Global United's 9-2 win, as two children watch from a vantage point at the near post.
Meet the Global United team. Standing (left to right): Martin Driller (ex-Borussia Dortmund), Geert Brusselers (NAC Breda), Lutz Pfannenstiel, Lothar Sippel (Dortmund), Petar Rnkovic (Stromsgodset and Norway), Jorg Heinrich (Dortmund). Front (left to right): Kristian Baumgartner (Hoffenheim), Andreas Gorlitz (Bayern Munich), Lolo Goraseb (Namibia).
Children at a secondary school at in Okaukuejo, in Namibia's Etosha National Park, listen to advice on how to look after the environment and use their resources wisely.
Children from the Okaukuejo school join Global United players for a kickabout, with Gorlitz visible in the background.
Global United players teamed up with footballers and schoolchildren to plant more than 550 new trees during the visit to Namibia. Driller, Baumgartner and Goraseb show them how it is done and play their part in the U.N. Billion Tree Campaign to combat global warming.
Global United's players gather before the match against the Kunene All Stars, played before a crowd of more than 2,500 fans in Oujo. Global United dominated proceedings, chalking up a 10-0 victory.
In what almost seems like an endless landscape, players take part in what is believed to be the first football match staged on the huge Etosha salt pan, which forms part of the Kalahari Basin in northern Namibia. "It felt like playing on the moon, but it was a very proud moment," Pfannenstiel says.
Having retired as a professional player, Pfannenstiel now works in international relations and scouting for German Bundesliga club TSG Hoffenheim, which donated the shirts worn by these children.