We call our donors and supporters “Changemakers“ because, with their support, young lives in Tanzania are directly impacted and a positive change is being made to give them better futures.
Our changemaker this month is international football champion Viktoria Schnaderbeck. Viktoria is captain of the Austrian women’s national soccer team and also plays for Arsenal FC in London. Before that, she was under contract to FC Bayern Munich for eleven years. As well as playing professional football, Viktoria is a successful keynote speaker, is currently pursuing a master’s degree in business psychology and has just co-founded an association dedicated to promoting women’s and girls’ soccer.
Viktoria Schnaderbeck has been an active changemaker at Jambo Bukoba since 2012.
In this interview, we talk to Viktoria about her decision to become an ambassador for the organisation. We discover the values that shape her, and we find out that these values and her life philosophy are reflected, not just in the work she does for Jambo Bukoba, but in her choice of Jambo Bukoba as an organisation that she wishes to support.
“Passion, direct access to project work, transparency, the combination of children and sport, and helping girls: all of these factors are unique selling points of Jambo Bukoba.”
Viktoria, tell us how you support Jambo Bukoba and its goals in Africa.
I support Jambo Bukoba with my time. I raise funds for the organisation, for example, through auctions or a special Christmas fundraiser that I run with family and friends. I also went to Tanzania to experience what the organisation is doing and to do football training with girls. I wholeheartedly support Jambo Bukoba.
How did you hear about Jambo Bukoba in the first place?
I came across Jambo Bukoba back in 2012. Clemens, the founder, came to FC Bayern München and presented the organisation and its work to us. I approached him directly afterwards and said that I would like to support Jambo Bukoba. That’s how it all started.
Are there conditions that have to be met before you commit to an NGO or charity?
Yes there are.
Firstly, any NGO or charity I support has to act transparently.
Secondly, the sustainability of the organisation’s approach is very important to me. Donations have to be spent on something with a long-lasting positive effect, not just a quick fix.
Thirdly, direct access to project work: if I donate, then I would like to see how the funds are helping. Is a school being built? Where? Is a workshop being carried out? By whom and who will benefit and when will it happen?
Last but not least, when I decide to help an NGO or charity, sincerity and authenticity are important factors. That means that the cause I support has to be something that engages me in a personal way.
What factors impressed you about Jambo Bukoba and its concept?
First off, what attracted me was that through sport, Jambo Bukoba was making children strong. Through sport, the organisation is achieving its goals: facilitating education, teaching preventative health measures to protect young generations from HIV and Aids, and gender equality. Through education children’s futures are being improved and they are getting better chances in life.
Furthermore, the concept of Jambo Bukoba is sustainable. The “life skills through games” approach and other Jambo Bukoba projects make a positive and enduring impact on young lives.
Is there a unique aspect that sets Jambo Bukoba apart from other development organisations?
There are several. One is that Clemens Mulokozi, the founder, is so clearly passionate about what Jambo Bukoba is doing and how it is doing it. Clemens can tell you exactly what is going on, how donations are spent and where the challenges are that need help. This transparency is reflected in how the organisation is structured. As a supporter of Jambo Bukoba and as a donor, I have 100% transparent access to the workings and finances of the organisation and I can directly influence a specific project outcome.
Passion, direct access to project work, transparency, the combination of children and sport and helping girls: all of these factors are USPs of Jambo Bukoba.
Sport is your life and one of the reasons you help Jambo Bukoba. How important is sport for children?
Sport is essential for children. It’s a strong tool for building up self-respect and self-value. Sport teaches us to be more responsible. It teaches you to be strong and assert yourself.
“Children in Tanzania have many challenges. Through sport, they develop the resilience and mental strength that will help them deal with challenges all their lives.”
You’re a strong advocate for girls and women in soccer. How does this extend to women’s empowerment and gender equality outside of the soccer world?
The empowerment of women and gender equality are very important to me. I support these issues where I can both in football and in the outside world. As a professional footballer, I am a woman in a men’s domain. I’ve come across prejudice and clichés throughout my career. I empower girls and women by asserting myself in this typically male world. As an inspirational speaker and through my work with Jambo Bukoba, I also act with women’s interests at heart, and to make girls stronger and more confident in life.
Today, we are seeing more and more examples of “Women Power”, most recently through the US vice presidency of Kamala Harris and other examples of strong women in the world. But there’s still a lot to be done however. The barriers between the sexes must continue to be broken down.
Have you seen any changes in attitudes to women’s football since you started playing?
The attitude to women’s football has changed greatly in the last few years and for the better. In Austria, in 2017, when the Austrian national team came 3rd in the UEFA Women’s Championship, there was a massive positive societal change in attitude throughout the country. And this change was very important. It was essential that the public finally took us seriously as players and as people. This helps us to be role models, particularly to younger generations coming up.
As an international football player, you have to be physically and mentally strong. How do you deal with doubts, fears and insecurities and how do you develop mental strength?
I deal with insecurity by being very reflective. I ask myself if these doubts and fears are justified. If they are, then I just let them be, as I realize these times are a part of life, and acknowledging these fears is part of the process.
I then try to find solutions and not focus on the problems but look ahead. Thinking positive things and being grateful for what I have are important here. I set goals for the future. I identify what I can influence and I shift out of the victim role into a more proactive stance – into the role of the winner. That helps me a lot.
Does sport help you in these cases?
Yes – sport is essential for mental fitness. Through sport you develop many soft and hard skills like communication, leadership, team building, international and intercultural competence, interaction with players and learning to deal with defeat and pressure.
Sport helps you to continue to perform despite defeats. It gives you the tools to want to perform again and again at a high level. I am a big believer in the physical and psychological benefits of sport.
That’s why Jambo Bukoba’s life skills through games and sport concept appeals to me so much. Children in Tanzania have many challenges. Through sport, they develop the resilience and mental strength that will help them deal with challenges all their lives.
“For children in Tanzania, it’s not ‘what school will I go to?’, it’s ‘will I go to school at all?'”
You travelled to Tanzania with Jambo Bukoba in 2017. What were your impressions?
I can hardly describe it in words as it was so emotional and there were so many experiences. It was like being in another world. It wasn’t just the poverty that affected me but also the culture, the mentality, seeing how much happier people appear to be despite having so much less than us.
People in Tanzania have huge problems that are unimaginable to us in the west. They are confronted with just surviving every day, having enough to eat, having water, having an education and getting their families through. That people can be happy in those circumstances – that truly moved me.
The Jambo For Development team in Tanzania also bowled me over. They do an incredible job with amazing passion in difficult circumstances. They work so hard and are true role models.
What about the challenges for children and youth in Tanzania?
The challenges are that they are so limited in what they can do and they simply don’t have the possibilities and perspectives that we take for granted.
For children in Tanzania, it’s not “what school will I go to?”, it’s “will I go to school at all?” The limitations are vast, and for girls it’s particularly hard. Gender roles are very traditional so girls often have to stay at home to take care of the household. They are usually the ones sent to fetch water from a spring or river miles away. If they make it to school, limited or no hygiene and sanitation facilities makes life very uncomfortable for them, for example when they have their periods.
Overwhelmingly, there are few opportunities for children in Africa to realise their dreams whether it’s a career in football or something else. By going on this journey, I recognised that that poverty in Tanzania isn’t just material poverty, it’s also a poverty of opportunities, of perspectives and of possibilities.
You once said: “When you have the opportunity to do good through media attention, you have a duty to be socially responsible.” Where do you stand on the subject of celebrities and social commitment?
I think that if you want to do something positive, whether as a celebrity or public figure or a private individual, it’s always a good thing. The only difference is, as a public figure, you have media attention and anything you do or decide is likely to be more scrutinized. For me personally, it’s always important to be authentic and true to myself. In my heart I know that I want to contribute to a better world and I act on that.
What would you tell people to motivate them to donate to Jambo Bukoba?
I would say, if you want your money to be used honestly and sustainably, and you want to support a specific project where you see the outcome and where you perhaps have a chance to visit that project outcome too, then help Jambo Bukoba.
“If you want your money to directly help children in Africa get an education and to learn life skills through sport, then help Jambo Bukoba.”
What do you wish for Jambo Bukoba in the coming year?
I wish that despite the difficult corona situation that people will continue to engage for Jambo Bukoba either with their time or with donations, and in doing so support the excellent work they are doing.
Viki, what are your plans and wishes for 2021?
My wish is to stay healthy and happy and make the best of the current situation despite corona. I am injured at the moment, but I can still look at the big picture, be thankful for the great people that I have around me and how well I am doing in life. I keep that sentiment in me and focus on moving forward.
Do you have a quote or saying or motto that you live by that could inspire our readers?
Since I was a kid, I have used this: Do your best every day, your best day is still to come. That says a lot about me, that I have high standards and I wish to continue to develop.
Dear Viktoria, you are an inspiration in so many ways: as a sports professional, as a woman and as a human being. We thank you for your ongoing support and its direct, positive impact on young lives in Tanzania. We are happy to name you our Jambo Bukoba and Jambo For Development Changemaker of the Month ?
If, like Viktoria Schnaderbeck, you would like to help children in Tanzania to have a better start in life, please support one of our sustainable projects directly. Our current educational projects including renovations and workshops and the costs associated with these projects are listed here on our website.
Viktoria Schnaderbeck interviewed by Muriel Burke