Record-breaking: 28 years of commitment to German-Japanese football friendship
Award at his new employer: The Japanese first division club Vissel Kobe
Berlin/Kobe – 13.02.2018: The German Football Ambassador e.V. (FuBo) has nominated three German coaches for the sixth time for the outstanding social commitment abroad with and around football. The first of three of the nominees is none other than former Bundesliga professional Gert Engels, who has been passionately committed to the sporting and social exchange between Japan and Germany for 28 years. Roland Bischoff, founder of FuBo, personally awards him at his new employer, the first division club FC Vissel Kobe, on February 13, 2018.
“Gert Engels’ tireless commitment to sports and social engagement in Japan is unique. I am impressed by the way people welcome and appreciate him here. It’s an honor to present him with the main prize 2018 in the Coach Category.” says Roland Bischoff, founder of the German Football Ambassador.
Engel’s appointment as assistant coach at the traditional Japanese football club Vissel Kóbe, in which former international player Lukas Podolski has also been under contract since 2017, led him to opt for the sustainable project “Future Local” – Gendkids to enable children and young people affected by the tsunami disaster to have a better future through football. The nomination is linked to the earmarked support of a social project in Japan.
“Japan has become my second home. Our countries have many things in common. I love my job as a coach in professional football, but playing football with children is just as much fun for me. Sport in general and football in particular is fun, makes you forget problems, turns children and young people into’ team players’, is integrative and strengthens the character of the individual and the group. And strong children become strong people, even outside of football.” Explains the nominee Gert Engels.
For Engels, his successful Japan adventure began back in 1990 with his first coaching post at the Aseno Sports Club (now Mito HollyHock). Even then, he was involved in a Japanese football school, trained young players and contributed to cultural exchange. Three years later he joined Yokohama Wings as assistant coach. Later he took over the professional team and won the league cup with her in 1998. Afterwards, he led Kyoto Sanga back to the premier league and won another league cup with his team in 2002. His next stage brought him to Urawa Red Diamonds: together with Guido Buchwald and Holger Osieck, they catapulted the team to the top of Japanese club football. After Holger Osieck’s contract ended, he took over as head coach. In 2009 he also founded a German-Japanese football academy in order to inspire, strengthen and promote young people for this sport.
Dr. Werner Koehler, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany and representatives of the Goethe-Institut Osakas travelled from Osaka especially for the event. As part of the nomination trip, the delegation will accompany Gert Engels to the sites of his social commitment in order to gain an insight into his work.
“I congratulate Mr. Engels most sincerely on his award. He has contributed to the fact that football has become increasingly popular in Japan in recent years. Germany and Japan are close partners in many fields. I am very pleased that we can count football among them.” Says Dr. Werner Koehler.
For the sixth time now, the German Football Ambassador e. V. is awarding the awards in three categories to German coaches and players who contribute to Germany’s positive reputation abroad. This year’s award ceremony will take place at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin at the beginning of May. Theo Buecker (Lebanon) and Ernst Middendorp (Thailand) are still nominated in the “Trainer” category. Middendorp is best known for his successes in South Africa and has been Technical Director of Bangkok United since early 2017. Buecker is currently training the Lebanese first division team Al-Nejmeh and has many years of experience in the Arab world.