ST. PETERSBUGH, Russia (KMOX) – Voice of the St. Louis Blues, Chris Kerber is currently in Russia with his daughter, Emily, who is the U.S. youth reporter at Football 4 Friendship. Sixty-four countries sent two, 12-year-old delegates to either participate in the international soccer tournament or cover the games as a sports reporter.
Kerber met one man who’s story stands out.
Bent Steinhage, a native of Cape Town, South Africa, is a former semi-pro soccer player in Germany, and now runs a soccer camp for youth in his home town.
He had just 6 days to organize a delegation to come to St. Petersburg.
He went straight to Germany after high school, then spent a year doing volunteered work in Nicaragua, which he says changed his life. When he returned home, he started to coach a group of eight kids every afternoon – then it grew to 120 kids.
“A lot of the kids were from historically disadvantaged backgrounds,” Steinhage says. “Some couldn’t afford to come to the practice sessions. They were walking barefoot on rainy days, didn’t have proper meals, couldn’t really speak english but the program grew, and grew, and grew.”
Now, Steinhage’s program provides kids with daily meals, club track suits, busses for transportation and tuition for education.
He funded the program for the first four years with just his personal savings. He would drive into the poor areas and pick kids up to take them to practice.
Listen to his full conversation with Kerber at the top of the page.