The FIFA World Cup is a global event which has a massive impact on a host nation and its citizens. Billions of people around the world turn their focus on the beautiful game which is played in the arenas.
But tournaments like the FIFA World Cup also pave the way for projects and campaigns which have the aim to help the local citizens and to create a legacy apart from the glamorous spectacle on the football pitches.
Young German visual communication student Theresa Ernst’s social commitment within the context of Germany’s successful 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign is helping the children of Santo André in Brazil.
I had the opportunity to interview Theresa on her social commitment, the famous privacy wall around „Campo Bahia“ and how all of us can play a vital role to keep the legacy alive.
Chris Punnakkattu Daniel: Theresa, thanks a lot for taking the time for this interview and your willingness to share a very exciting chapter in your life and the social commitment connected to it.
Theresa Ernst: I’m glad that you are interested to take it up again. Four years have already passed since then…
Chris: The 2018 FIFA World Cup has concluded in Russia a few weeks ago and France claimed the coveted trophy to succeed Germany. „Die Mannschaft“ had won the FIFA World Cup Trophy four years ago and you have contributed to Germany’s success in Brazil. Please tell about your involvement and how the idea came up.
Theresa: I got to know about the privacy wall around the training facilities of the German national team in Brazil during my semester break, when I accompanied my father Rainer Ernst, who actually planned the training facilities named „Campo Bahia“. Since I study visual communication in Offenbach, I had the idea to pattern the flakeboards with elements which represent typical forms and colours of Santo André and Bahia and to design the patterns together with the kids and youngsters from the region.
Chris: What was your first thought, when you looked at the barren 115 metres long and 2.55 metres tall privacy wall around the „Campo Bahia“? And what were your thoughts, when you received the news that you are allowed to posh up the wall?
Theresa: The idea emerged with the sole goal to incorporate the outsiders from Santo André. They should gain centre stage and be part of the whole. The kids didn’t have a chance to look beyond the wall and to get an idea what’s happening in their village.
Chris: How did the idea arise to involve the children and teenagers of the Santo André based charity CCCultura? And how did the charity react when you approached them with the idea?
Theresa: I was introduced to CCCultura by Waltraud Busch, who is involved in the charity „Eltern für Kinder e.V.“. CCCultura were delighted to hear about the idea and they gifted me pictures from the children when we met for the very first time.
Chris: What kind of visuals and slogans decorated the wall? And how did you and the kids choose the final motifs?
Theresa: We painted altogether at big tables outside in the garden. Before that we considered carefully about the things which represent the kids, their origin and their culture. We wrote down words such as „Indios“, „Macacaos“, „Frutas“ or „Praia“ on a board. The visuals on the privacy wall should give a totally new and personal insight to the region. I was also able to revert to an existing collection as due to the limited time in Brazil.
Chris: How did the German team, the coaching staff and the DFB (German FA) officials react, when they spotted the results of your work?
Theresa: Everyone was excited! Oliver Bierhoff mentioned the privacy wall in one of the first press conferences und thanked for the colourful welcome to the team and all visitors. Even the media was delighted day by day about the expressive eye catcher, which represented the special spirit of Bahia.
Chris: The 2014 FIFA World Cup reached its climax on July 13, 2014 when Germany became the new World Champions. And it was time to say goodbye to the „Campo Bahia“. But what happened to the privacy wall? What kind of idea did you have to provide the valuable work some sustainability?
Theresa: We shipped the 1.7 t heavy privacy wall from Brazil to Germany with the support of German national television channel ZDF and logistics company Schenker. Then I started to sight the 88 piece parts. Each piece part had a size of 2.2 x 1.2 metres. I cleaned the parts, reworked them and framed the piece parts to auction them. I would like to raise some funds through the auction to educate the children of Santo André and to keep them away from the streets. CCCultura is helping for free and therefore they depend on aid. They do not only offer art, cultural activities, dance and theatre, but they also provide tutoring and psychological care. Most of the parents of these kids are illiterates and unemployed. Drug consumption and domestic abuse loom large.
Chris: How much do the 2014 FIFA World Cup winners and the DFB support you in your endeavour?
Theresa: Sami Khedira’s support helped to employ two teachers for a period of one year. Many parts of the privacy wall are still available and they can be auctioned for a donation.
Chris: How and where can the readers acquire a piece of the historic privacy wall?
Theresa: The readers may drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can sight the remaining piece parts, cut them to an individual size and frame them. There are a few pictures of the privacy wall on my website www.theresaernst.com/sichtschutzwand, if anyone would like to have a look at them.
Chris: Are there also other ways to support your and your social commitment for the kids of Santo André?
Theresa: The CCCultura is supported by the German charity „Eltern für Kinder e.V.“. Everyone can help with a donation to their „Brazil“ donation account with the reference „Santo André“.
Chris: How much importance does the launch and support of new social commitments have to you personally? And would you like to achieve some future projects together with the DFB and the German national team?
Theresa: The project in Brazil was a onetime project. I was only able to realise it with the help of the DFB and the German company Hirmer-Immobilien Gruppe. It is fabulous to see what can be achieved from a spontaneous idea. Jimena, a teacher from CCCultura, thanked me in tears. The project was not only great fun and it did not only generate some funding for the charity, but it was even more a sense of achievement for the kids who were able to gather a new self-confidence. Something similar will not take place again and it is fine how it is. New work will come up and I look forward to it with a lot of joy.
Chris: Theresa, thanks a lot for this very interesting interiew! I wish you all the best for your upcoming projects!
Theresa: Thank you very much!