Sven Heischkel is barely recognizable on this evening in Nuremberg. His face is completely painted in black, red, and gold. He’s wearing a hat and a wig, a flower necklace around his neck, a flag around his hips – all in Germany’s national colors. The 33 year old from Hof, Germany completes his look with a replica World Cup Trophy in his right hand. “In Brazil, it will be our year,” he says with confidence.
Heischel is one of the more than 50,000 fans who are members of the National Team Fan Club, an association powered by Coca-Cola. “When I became a member in 2005, excitement in Germany was slowly building for the upcoming World Cup. That’s when I discovered the Fan Club’s site online.” Explains Heischkel. As a fan club member, his favorite football experiences have been the World Cup in South Africa and the EUROs in Poland and the Ukraine.
PlayStation Duel With Bayern Star Thomas Mueller
Coca-Cola and the German Football Association (DFB) in Nuremberg established the National Team Fan Club in 2003. The club recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary at an international match against Kazakhstan. Membership has many benefits, including the ability to buy tickets to home games and organized trips for foreign matches. Especially popular with members is the chance to participate in “Fan-Tastic Moments,” opportunities that allow fans to meet their favorite players in unforgettable ways. Those “moments” have included PlayStation gaming with Bayern Munich star Thomas Mueller, a coaching session with the assistant of the national coach, Hansi Flick, and a meeting with BVB director Mario Götze. National team manager and sponsor of the National Team Fan Club, Oliver Bierhoff is proud that the club has become so popular with fans over the last few years. “The choreographed routines, the chants, all the support, the efforts they make to travel with us – there are just so many things they do. Founding the fan club was simply a very good idea.”
The Fan Club Brings Rivals Together
Sixteen volunteers are responsible for running the worldwide fan club membership, answering questions, planning trips for away games, and distributing tickets to the club's membership. “Friendships are made through the fan club. I am invited to birthdays, we go to Bundesliga games, and we always meet up to socialize,” says fan club volunteer Uwe Buntrock from Hanover. The 38 year old is a civil servant by day but uses his holidays to manage his club duties. “The away game trip to Moscow with 75 fans from Hanover, the World Cup in South Africa with those legendary games against England and Argentina, the last game at London’s Wembley Stadium – these were all unforgettable moments,” Buntrock says. For him, the community spirit is the nicest thing about the National Team Fan Club. Whether you're normally a Schalke or a Dortmund fan, a Bremen or Hamburg fan, the only team that matters in the club is the national team. “Here we are all united. It is nice to be among like-minded people,” Sven Heischkel says as he raises his mock World Cup trophy to the Nuremberg sky. While the fans dream of victories in Brazil next year, preparations for the World Cup are well underway. While Jogi’s boys prepare themselves for world-class football, the volunteers who run the fan club are doing world-class work to make sure that the fans are prepared.
Many thanks to the National Team Fan Club for the last ten years!