Many German coaches representing their nation abroad are devoting themselves to international football and promoting human rights. Three of them are up for the German Football Ambassador crown.
Football is Germany's most popular sport. It is the love of this sport that leads many German football coaches to move abroad, where they seek to pass on their passion and work with national teams or clubs - all the while representing their home country.
The German Football Ambassador initiative was launched in 2011 to give these German coaches recognition for being role models in their field. The initiative focuses on the work of these individuals in the fields of sports, community building and the promotion of human rights. It also helps with the financing of their projects.
German coaching legend Rudi Gutendorf is the patron of the initiative, which is supported by Deutsche Welle and the Goethe Institute, along with national partners such as football magazine kicker and the German Academy for Football Culture.
Focus on Qatar, Jamaica and Namibia
Announced at a press conference on Tuesday, Monika Staab, Klaus Stärk and Winfried Schäfer are the three nominees selected from a list of 35 candidates.
Staab works in youth and women's football and is currently the coach of the Qatar women's national team. She played for Paris St. Germain, Queens Park Rangers and Southampton before embarking on a coaching career with the women's team of FFC Frankfurt, with whom she won the German championship four times, the German Cup five times and the UEFA cup.
Since 2007, she has been working with FIFA, setting up projects in over fifty countries, including Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, where the idea is to empower women and girls to make a stand in society.
Klaus Stärk is the technical director of the Namibia Football Association and has been overseeing projects run by the German foreign ministry and the German Football Federation (DFB) since 2008. These projects involve the training of coaches and referees, as well as youth work and projects in girls' football. As a coach, Stärk has worked in Afghanistan, Lebanon, South Africa and Mongolia.
The most well-known of the nominees is Winfried Schäfer. The former Bundesliga coach has worked on four continents. With Cameroon's national team he celebrated his biggest success, winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2002.
Since July, he has been at the helm of Jamaica, but has also held posts at clubs such as Al-Ahli and Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates, FK Baku in Azerbaijan and Muangthong United in Thailand.
Schäfer, who has won several awards for coaching, made the headlines when he organized a children's tournament for orphanages in Thailand in 2001.
Award ceremony in May
Germany women's team head coach Doris Fitschen, the publisher of kicker magazine Rainer Holzschuh and former Germany international Uwe Seeler make up the jury that will select the winner of the prize. The award will be handed out at a ceremony at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin on May 5, 2014.
You can find more information on the German Football Ambassador initiative here.