By Dirk Köster

Football fans are a thirsty bunch and through the donation of used drinking cups by the spectators of Hannover 96 in the HDI Arena, 50,000 Euros has been collected for the project “Drinking cups for drinking water” – a record number for a Bundesliga season.

Used plastic cups are washed and re-used by the stadium caterers inside the HDI Arena on matchdays for which 1 Euro per cup is donated.

For almost nine years, helpers have been collecting the cups which are delivered by fans to special stands inside the stadium. The money raised goes to aid drinking water projects in Africa. It’s a project Hannover 96 have supported since its beginning.

The scheme continues to enjoy great popularity with the Hannover faithful. The new mark of 50,000 cups collected – which was achieved in the final home game against Hertha BSC – exceeds the previous record of 44,328 from their last season played in Bundesliga 2.

The donation record of 5,221 cups on a single match day was reached last season and is still unmatched.

In March this year another project highlight was realised. The total sum raised by the scheme since its inception broke the 300,000 Euro barrier. The donation crew leader, Anja Kutzke, was delighted to have reached a very special sum: “This is an incredible amount; one we never thought we could reach”, Kutzke said.

The idea behind launching “Drinking cups for drinking water” at Hannover 96 came about in 2009 through fans on the Rote Kurve. The funds go directly to the Global Nature Fund for the rehabilitation and construction of wells and drinking water treatment plants in Kenya, Senegal, South Africa and the Ivory Coast to provide local people with access to clean drinking water.

In many African countries, the supply of drinking clean water remains a problem. Well systems are in need of rehabilitation, especially in rural villages, and sanitation and drinking water treatment are inadequate. Since 2010, 100 wells have been built or repaired in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal to alleviate this malady. Further wells are being planned, including in KwaZulu-Natal, one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. In Kenya too, the water is mostly taken from nearby rivers or ponds. This is why children often suffer from diseases such as diarrhoea or cholera, which are caused by dirty water. Since 2009, five water treatment plants and two water tanks have been set up at schools and orphanages, benefiting children and villagers alike. Thanks to the many donations over the years, the project has helped more than 55,000 people secure drinking water supplies to date.

In the future, too, Hannover 96 and its fans are committed to continuing their support of the Global Nature Fund through the drinking cups initiative.