After having made three trips to Asia, the Borussia Dortmund soccer team (BVB) headed west this year, setting off for the US on its “Football Unplugged” tour. And Evonik was at its side the whole time. A special partnership has connected the company and the soccer club since 2006, making the BVB a likable ambassador for Evonik and opening doors all over the world. Christian Pulisic, the US soccer player of the year in 2017, was especially influential when it comes to winning Americans over to the “other kind of football.”
While the Land of Opportunity may have been unusual terrain for the BVB, Evonik is at home here: over 5,000 people work for Evonik at 30 production sites in the North America region (US, Canada, and Mexico). Roughly 400 employees, friends, and guests, as well as 60 customers and partners were close to the action during matches against Manchester City, FC Liverpool, and Benfica Lissabon. Soccer has traditionally failed to generate the kind of excitement in the US that it does elsewhere in the world, yet Major League Soccer is catching up, in part because interest is growing among younger generations. One more reason to whip up enthusiasm for the sport, especially among the young.
In advance of the pro tour, BVB Evonik Soccer School coaches took their Dortmund bus on a 2,400 km trip across 13 states—from New Orleans in the south to Chicago in the north. Along the way, they also stopped at seven Evonik sites to kick the ball around with employees’ children and grandchildren. The chance to train like the pros made 250 soccer-crazy kids very happy. And soccer has long been part of the culture at the Evonik site in Lafayette: “We’re all about team spirit around here,” says Ryan Teel, who works in Quality Assurance. “We play regularly during lunch—doesn’t matter whether you work in production or management. It’s a great opportunity to network and to talk to people you wouldn’t normally have any contact with because they work in other areas.”
That team sports foster integration was evident even in May, when the BVB made the first stop of its US tour in Los Angeles: new Evonik colleagues from the Vernon site, who joined the company through the integration of the Air Products specialty additives business, were able to see for themselves how well “Power to Create” and “Echte Liebe" (BVB's claim meaning: "True Love”) fit together.