At the end of the 2017/18 season football players are thinking one of two things. There are the lucky ones who are competing for the World Cup and the unfortunate ones whose country couldn’t make it to the biggest football tournament so they will ‘only’ be able to enjoy the games from their luxurious homes or from a hotel they’re spending their vacation at. However, there is a third group of players. Let’s call them the admirable ones. Players who dedicate their free time to make a difference, players who are concerned with the well being of others and strive to put a smile on people’s faces. Neven Subotić and Nuri Şahin fall under this category.
If you have been reading the Bundesliga Fanatic in the last couple of years then you are familiar with our piece ‘Neven Subotić – More than Just a Footballer’. The former longtime Borussia Dortmund central defender spends his summers in Ethiopia working with his foundation Neven Subotić Stiftung providing clean water to people living in rural areas, teaching them about health, informing them about sanitation, and building latrines in public schools. The Serbian defender, who is now playing at Ligue 1 side Saint-Étienne, had a helping hand from former Borussia Dortmund teammate Nuri Şahin in his latest trip.
After the summer vacation is over and the players meet for preseason training Subotić may have come back with a big smile and satisfaction written all over his face. Players like Şahin may have asked their teammate what happiness is all about. He may have told them about a country called Ethiopia and how he spent the previous week drilling wells and providing clean water services for people leaving far away from cities, where they could not get access to water that is safe for drinking. This is probably what inspired Şahin to join him on this endeavor. At the end of the trip the Turkish midfielder labeled it ‘the most memorable experience of my life.’
Şahin saw what an amazing job Subotić’s foundation was doing. He could not believe that people were forced to drink unclean water gathered from rivers and lakes. Even worse, mothers, who are usually tasked with these activities, were forced to travel long distances in search of the water sources every day. And when they finally do find the water they have to carry the heavy water on their back and return all the way back home. Şahin got a taste of how heavy and tiresome it is to carry liters of water around as he hoisted one on his back. He said that he could not believe that such problems exist.
Using their Facebook Page the foundation documented their day to day activity and informed their supporters about what they managed to accomplish. “It was a journey full of special moments and encounters that we will never forget” was the last entry from Ethiopia after successful days of work.
“Together we can ensure that more people get access to basic livelihoods every day. Together we create the basis for educational opportunities, self-determination and future prospects.”
Besides the work involved this trip was also an opportunity to explore the vast culture of Ethiopia. The members of the foundation visited two Christian Orthodox churches. They have visited the Debre Amar School, where a total of 522 students have access to clean water thanks to the foundation’s project.
They were also allowed to visit a community where there have been wells and sanitary facilities for four years. “We are very grateful that we were able to learn first- hand how the community’s life has changed through access to basic needs!” was their reaction.
A huge Thank You for your amazing work Nuri Şahin and especially Neven Subotić . The world needs more people like you. Being a great footballer who won trophies and enjoyed success is one thing but using your fame and influence to help others is something else entirely
Brook lives in Ethiopia and started following the Bundesliga from a very young age. His favorite players then were Thomas Rosicky – the reason he became a Dortmund fan! – and Marcelinho of Hertha Berlin. He likes to watch, read, write, and talk about football with a special interest in discussing emerging young talents. Follow @brookge