The growing popularity of a local soccer-team for players with handicaps

One of the videos went viral. Around 25 Million people watched the young soccer player scoring and then celebrating. With likes and response from famous players like Lukas Podolski oder Franck Ribery. Here’s the story behind the clip.

It was taken in a Cologne suburb where a soccer tournament for players with handicap took place. With local club FC Germania Zündorf hosting. The club has a special team of people with and without disabled players – of all ages, sexes and origins.

23 years old Gökhan Erdek, together with Frederik Bohn and Niklas Kowalski, started the team almost five years ago. “We had a place to play. We had the players. So we just started.” Erdek, whose main job is at the neary-by’s airport customs station, is coach and player at the ame time. And more.

He asks for sponsoring, organizes the team, its training, games and even some extra activities, like field-trips of the team. Which makes him not only inevitable in the club (the president jokes: “We need to clone him ten times.”) but also well-known elsewhere.

His team will be awarded by Cologne’s annual award for voluntary activities. Erdek also was honoured by German Football Association DFB. Just some of the awards and decorations for him and his team.

Recently Cologne’s lady mayor Elfi Scho-Antwerpes and Friedhelm Julius Beucher, president of National Paralympic Committee Germany, came to visit the team.

“It’s so rewarding and so much fun. So I really like to spend time with and for the team,” Erdek states. All that mirrors in the joyful mood and special spirit of the team. For most of his players training and the games are the highlight of the day, Erdek says. In Germany only 50 percent of handicaped people do or can do sports.