Opener of the sustainability initiative “From the field to the fan shop”
Published on 03.02.2023
The “Vom Feld in den Fanshop” (from the field to the fan shop) initiative, the joint creation of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and textile company BRANDS Fashion, paid an opening visit to the project region in India. The initiative’s partners are nine football clubs from the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga who are jointly committed to sustainability in the area of fan products. Alongside 1. FC Union Berlin, Arminia Bielefeld, Eintracht Frankfurt, Hamburger SV, SV Werder Bremen, VfB Stuttgart and VfL Wolfsburg, Borussia Dortmund and FC St. Pauli recently joined the alliance too. Over the next three years, “Vom Feld in den Fanshop” will be supporting 450 small farmers in India in making the switch to organic cotton cultivation. The clubs undertake to acquire the cotton for production of their merchandise. Moreover, as part of the project, coaching will benefit around 1,000 children and young people from neighbouring cotton-growing communities. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is implementing the project locally on behalf of the BMZ and together with partners, which include Fairtrade Deutschland.
In late January, a delegation travelled to the project region Rapar, in the state of Gujarat in Western India. A visit to the cotton fields gave the project participants and the producers from the growers’ co-operative Rapar & Dhrangadhra Farmers Producer Company (RDFC) the chance to meet and exchange information. The small farmers have just begun with the switch from conventional to organic cotton. GIZ is supporting them with training in sustainable cultivation techniques and access to improved seeds. The intention is to have small farming operations produce around two tonnes of organic cotton per hectare in the future.
A further highlight of the project trip was a sport and youth festival at a school in an Indian community where people predominantly make a living from cotton cultivation. The festival was organised by the local project partner, the Indian NGO Youth for Change, together with GIZ. The children and young people enthusiastically gave their all in the sport contests.
“Vom Feld in den Fanshop” promotes access to education and sport offerings for children and young people in ten communities in the cotton-growing region. The programme boosts self-confidence by means of sporting activities, improves performance at school and raises awareness of environmental and resource conservation. Particular attention is paid to frequently disadvantaged girls and young women. The project provides training to coaches, who not only carry out the programmes but are also important contact persons for the children and young people.
“The initiative will greatly benefit from our on-the-ground experience in the region for the project’s opener,” reports Mathias Diestelmann, Managing Partner/CEO BRANDS Fashion. “As a sustainable textile company we were especially pleased to have the chance to meet our producers again and get to know the local partners. Communication on opportunities and challenges in organic cotton cultivation was very valuable and will play a role in boosting the sustainability consciousness of all participants and moving the project forward.”
The clubs involved in the initiative will be acquiring the cotton from the project right from within the three-year transition phase to sustainable, organic production. The so-called “Cotton-in-Conversion” collection is expected to present an initial range of fan merchandise using cotton from as early as summer 2023.
Photo: Participants in the “Vom Feld in den Fanshop” sustainability initiative. © SV Werder Bremen