25.01.2024Bayer 04

District Matchdays: Lomb, Skinnes Hansen and Thiel visit primary school in Bergisch Neukirchen

The primary school pupils won't forget this sports lesson in a hurry. As part of the 'District Matchdays' campaign, a Bayer 04 trio visited GGS Bergisch Neukirchen ahead of the Werkself's home match against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday (kick-off 18:30 CET). Players Niklas Lomb and Synne Skinnes Hansen along with men's goalkeeping coach David Thiel had a kickabout with the fourth-graders in the school gym on the fourth campaign matchday, which is all about Bergisch Neukirchen.

Thanks to the "Bayer 04-Lernkurve", the 17 primary school pupils, many of them wearing the current Werkself kits, got to experience the professionals up close and personal. As a warm-up, the children, led by Thiel together with Lomb and Skinnes Hansen, competed in two teams at mat shooting. Some showed promising technical skills in attack but also in goal. While Leverkusen-born Thiel led the exercise, the two Bayer 04 players helped "Team Bibs".

In the full-pitch game that followed, Lomb kept goal in a team with Skinnes Hansen, with Thiel defending for the other site. At half-time, the young players gathered in the centre circle to ask the Werkself pros questions. Lomb talked about his path to becoming a professional, his favorite video games, previous career aspirations and his first red card. Norwegian Skinnes Hansen talked about her first steps on the football pitch at the age of six, her desire to score goals and her hobbies of cross-country skiing and knitting. Thiel then asked the curious pupils about their own career aspirations.

Brian the Lion beim Elfmeterschießen

At the end of the second half, a penalty shootout against goalkeeper Lomb decided the winners. On cue, Brian the Lion then entered the sports hall as the surprise guest and greeted the excited children. Together with Lomb, Skinnes Hansen and Thiel, the Bayer 04 mascot took the time for all the schoolchildren's autograph and photo requests.

Lomb: we were all there once

Lomb gave a thoroughly positive review. "I think it's cool to play with kids and see how much joy they get from it," said the 30-year-old. "When you also get to answer some cool questions, that makes it even more fun. They just have a different perspective - and we were all there once."

Skinnes Hansen, who's taking German lessons following her move to Leverkusen last summer, was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to test out her language skills. "I tried to answer everything in German - and the kids mostly understood me, which was cool. My German teacher will certainly be proud," she said with a grin. The 28-year-old really enjoyed the session with the pupils. "I'd never been to a German school before," she explained. "It reminded me of my old gym in Norway. It's wonderful to see how excited the pupils were about our visit. You can inspire children with initiatives like this. When we asked them about their goals and dreams, there were so many different answers. Some also want to be footballers. I would've loved to have had an opportunity like this when I was a child," added the winger.

Fragestunde mit den Profis

For club veteran Thiel, whose own daughter attends first grade at GGS, the campaign was a special concern. "We're all experiencing an incredible buzz in the city," said the 39-year-old, who's been first-team goalkeeping coach since 2012. "More and more people are getting excited about Bayer Leverkusen, which makes us happy. Normally people come to us in the stadium, but here we come directly to them in the districts. When you look into the beaming eyes of the children, you can see how well received it is. In addition to the many questions, I also found it interesting to ask the children questions back."

GGS headteacher Sabine Mack watched the extraordinary lesson from the sidelines in high spirits. "I think it's great that we get the opportunity to be so close to the professionals as part of the project. It's a fantastic experience for the kids," she emphasised. "During the Q&A session, they also got answers to all their private questions in a relaxed atmosphere. They will still be talking about this experience as adults." Mack added: "It's great that the club also thinks about campaigns in its own city."

six district matchdays

Bayer 04 will be holding the so-called District Matchdays in the current season as well as the 2024/25 campaign. Around a selected Bundesliga home match, various projects and workshops take place in the respective district of Leverkusen. 

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