Hamburg Bus Port, the central coach station of the “Free“ and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the Gateway to the world. An elderly woman watches the happenings around her, she’s been doing it for two hours already. Whenever the group moves, she does too, like a shadow. She tries to figure out what’s going on and who exactly this group of people might be. She doesn’t ask any questions.
Other passengers did that already. So she could obtain some information “Oh, a football team? Lovely! Where are you going?” the cruise passengers queuing up for their bus ask.
Well, we, our WE that is, is going nowhere today. Sadly!
Certainly, we would prefer to go elsewhere, too – playing a friendly match or a tournament with friends, for instance. “We have to say goodbye to two of our players again, because two of our brothers and their families were ordered to leave the country!” one of our players explains. “Oh no, that’s terrible“, one lady says while another one asks “Why?”. So the players of FC Lampedusa St. Pauli tell the waiting people the story of the past two years: a story of hoping and waiting, of panic and the permanent fear of the police coming for them in the middle of the night – as happened to another one of our fellow players and his family – even though their legal advisor told them that there was nothing to worry about.
The people around become aware that it’s not easy subject for the players to talk about. Their eyes show fear, the fear of possibly being the next. Many of the waiting tourists have children themselves, kids of the same age. It is the autumn holidays in Hamburg. People leave the city for a quick break from the grey rainy sky, to “catch some rays“and for some lazy days on deck of a cruise ship. Having some days away from stress at school and the pressure to gain good marks.
The two boys and their three younger siblings, together with their single mom, being ordered to leave Hamburg and their football family would be all too happy if they could swap places with the other kids, including the stress and pressure. Instead, they have to leave, to go ‘OUT’, right in the middle of the school year, right in the middle of the holidays. Without having the chance to say goodbye to their friends and teachers and without getting given their school reports, which would be the prerequisite to attend school in their so called “safe country of origin” – assuming that you have the necessary funds and you’re not a member of an ethnic minority.
More and more players arrive at the bus station, to greet their ‘bros’ and if you didn’t know the actual reason for this gathering, you would easily think it was part of an ordinary weekend in the life of FC Lampedusa St. Pauli.
They now all sign a brand new ball which is passed on quietly and without touching the ground. After all, it should not get dirty. The German dirt should be left where it is, one of the players says roughly. It’s a distraction, to have the feeling of togetherness in these hard times.
At least, the sun shines. At “home”, which the older ones only call “back there” and of which the younger siblings have absolutely no idea of, winter is near already. The day before they had to quickly buy new winter jackets, says R., the friendly retiree, who was looking after the family over the past two years, so warm-heartedly. It is also him who seeks to talk to the coach company employee in the office, after the drivers from “new old home“ refused to accept their luggage. Two years of living in Hamburg are spread on the platform: one big plastic bag per person. The mothers question about the extra charge she wouldn’t mind paying is not answered. A first impression – to outsiders – about the fate this family is to face in about 21 hours time. It is not even necessary to speak the same language to see and understand how racist and discriminating the future of this Roma family will be.
Meanwhile, the elderly lady still watches the happenings. In a way, she has already become a part of our group of grievers. One of the players and the love of his life have to part, which is amongst the biggest and most heartbreaking drama on this sunny morning. She can stay while he has to get ‘OUT‘. Everything that gave them and their young lives a sort of comfort in this extremely difficult year is now taken away from them. For people at this age nine months – the term of the entry ban applying to the entire family – is a very long time. They’re still too young to marry; otherwise, it would have been way more difficult to tear this young couple apart.
While the team is still talking insistently to the coach drivers, tears burst out of people again and again. R., the good old soul, returns with the positive info that the luggage may finally be loaded for an extra charge. Everyone gives a hand to stow the bags in the most space-saving way. The FC Lampedusa St. Pauli players get into the coach’s luggage compartment, packing and piling bags and cases. After all, there’ll be more people getting on board during the long journey. Perhaps some of them sharing a similar fate.
While we’re all crying and taking pictures with the, newly sympathetic, almost befriended coach drivers, the elderly lady wonders if the starting point for that man, who took care of everything so warmheartedly, was a situation similar to the one she has just witnessed in this bus station on this Saturday in October. Maybe she wonders if she too should look for a family, and support them?
This, we do not know. But what we do know is that we cannot and do not want to emotionally endure weekends like this ever again.
This is why we keep on going, raise awareness, pool more strength and – with our football family – to play our part in creating a better world where everyone finds him or her self-a place to live, that they have chosen. A world where all people can live everywhere they want to, where they feel home, where they can be whatever they are and where it absolutely does not matter in which corner of this one world they and/or their parents were born.
All stay – where they want!
here to play – here to stay!
All the best, your FC Lampedusa St. Pauli