EFDN Interview – Bálint Máté from Ferencvárosi TC

20 April 2020

EFDN Interview – Bálint Máté from Ferencvárosi TC

During this difficult time, EFDN would like to provide CSR-professionals with inspiring news articles, resources and updates on the work carried out by our members. To do that, we have thought of a new feature: every week we will publish an interview with a football CSR practitioner.

The first interview of this new series of articles features Bálint Máté. Bálint is the International Project Manager at Ferencvárosi TC. In this role, he coordinates the Club’s UEFA Competition matches as well as representing the Club with international organisations. He is also in charge of the preparations and delivery of international projects, including those in collaboration with EFDN. Additionally, together with the club’s Director of Communications, Bálint is in charge of the activities of the Club’s CSR projects.

As the world is experiencing a global pandemic, we asked Bálint Máté several questions about how the Club is dealing with the current COVID-19 crisis and how Ferencváros TC are #Morethanfootball…

EFDN: How are you handling the current situation?

As I’m in charge of the international relationships of the Club, I can hardly accept that I’m physically not capable to do that and can’t meet with my colleagues nowadays. I spent 60-70 days abroad for working purposes in recent years, so the current situation is really a significant change in my case. But I’ve experienced that we can still roll on with the preparations of some of our projects even remotely, that keeps me motivated and hungry.

EFDN: What kind of initiatives are you currently delivering to help to overcome the COVID 19 crisis?

So far, the major team sports sections of Ferencváros (football, handball, ice hockey and waterpolo) and our stadium operator, Lagardère Sports Hungary donated 115.000 EUR to the hospitals which are highly involved in the battle vs COVID-19 pandemic in Hungary. The official catering partner of our stadium, Groupama Arena is delivering 140 servings of breakfast and lunch each day from the kitchen of the stadium to the employees, health workers, and medical doctors since the beginning of April. Our latest initiative is the “Together at Home” campaign, where we put together and deliver health & food products and club presents (such as books about Ferencváros) to 500 season ticket holders above the age of 65, who are at particular risk of the current pandemic. The packages are delivered by volunteers and club employees as well.

EFDN: What makes the role of clubs and their foundation’s so important during this crisis?

As I have previously mentioned, our Club’s #1 priority is to inspire and educate its own community and a broader audience of society, even other clubs and sports organisations through its activities and programmes. We intend to serve as a benchmark and hope that we can inspire others. As the most popular multisport club of Hungary, with 2 million+ domestic supporters, that’s our responsibility. We have received tremendous public attention, emotion and support since the club’s existence, now it’s our time for contribution and support, an opportunity to help.

EFDN: How do you stay safe, healthy and fit? Do you have any tips or advice?

Following the rise of the pandemic, our club also had to launch several restrictions, hygienic measures and limitations to minimize personal social interactions, especially preserving the health of our employees and club legends over the age of 60. To protect the health of my family, I’m working from home, go out for a big shopping “excursion” once per week for the entire family. Now I have more opportunity to do housework and take an even bigger part of raising my child. I do physical activities and workouts at home almost every day, I’m less physically inactive in these months, that’s definitely a benefit. What I can recommend to everyone, to stay mentally and physically active: participate online courses, gain new skills, do workouts, read valuable content (like books), languages etc. to be ready for the new challenges after these months.

EFDN: What are your (personal and club CSR) goals for 2020 and the near future?

The current public health and economic situation totally changed everything, including the entire sports industry, the entire domestic and international sports event calendar. I’m really awaiting the upcoming updated UEFA event calendar, which will be a good guide to restructure our entire autumn and winter events (we hope). Our aim remained unchanged, we’d like to repeat (or even over-perform) our impressive performance on-the-pitch (when we qualified from the 1st qualification round to the UEL Group Stage and gained 7 points).

At the same time, we have to reshape and restructure the timing and delivery of our international projects, their deadlines will have to be extended. We joined 6 potential international projects submitted to annual Erasmus+ Sport Program call (3 of them are EFDN-led-projects),  deeply hope that most of them will be approved, we were working on that in the recent weeks.

EFDN: What are the main target areas of your foundation?

In our case, Ferencváros has its Floran Albert Foundation which is in charge of making the club’s sports activities accessible and affordable for families which are living below the average living standards (having very limited financial resources). Also, they are in charge of preserving the heritage of late Florian Albert, the legendary player of Ferencváros who is the sole Ballon D’Or-winner footballer of Hungary. The CSR activities and programmes are funded, designed and implemented through the club administration, not through the foundation in our case.

With nearly all of our community programs and activities we would like to contribute to the broadening and strengthening of our fanbase. Our Fradi School Programme, the Active Fans, Community Champions League, Walking Football, Scoring for Health are all capable of that. All of the above-mentioned projects are entitled to promote a healthy lifestyle, which is definitely one of our key priorities. However, another important target of our activities is changing mindsets and further educating society. That’s the purpose of our anti-discrimination campaigns, our preventive work we’ve successfully done with the education of our fanbase over the years, but Fradi School Programme and Community Champions League is also an appropriate tool for that. Our aim is to find, raise and showcase role models in our club community, our Fradi Fair Play and the European Day of Care project are all serving these priorities.

EFDN: What is the club’s most successful community programme? Can you please explain in more detail what the project is about, including the projects main aims and objectives and the impact this programme has had, within the community?

As the first European club, we established the Club’s own Fair Play Committee in 2017, formed by legendary former athletes of Ferencváros, representatives of the senior club management, a representative of disabled sports and our main sponsor. I’m the Chief Secretary of the Committee. Our Committee has multiple meeting during the year and based on a call for candidates we organize a major gala event, the annual Fradi Fair Play Award where we reward and celebrate those athletes/players and individuals or organizations who made something remarkable in the spirit of Fair Play throughout the season or supporter a social goal of Ferencváros and can be considered as role models for the entire community. We organize this event with 1100+ participants on an annual basis since 2017, and it was shortlisted on the then ECA CSR Award.

EFDN: We believe that Football is #MorethanFootball. Why do you think your club is #morethanfootball?

As I’ve previously mentioned, we are Hungary’s most popular multisport club, one of the most well-known Hungarian brands with 2 million+ domestic supporters. The fact, that we are « more than a football » club, but operating plenty of other sports sections provides us more space, more platforms and opportunities to make the club more attractive and available for a broader audience and to do more activities. Our multisport approach gives more opportunity to the club to involve athletes and players of the non-men’s-football sections to our community programs and events as well, so we are not depending on the actual schedule and priorities of our Men’s Football section all the time.

To whom would you like to #passiton too, and why? 

To my fellow EFDN Board Member, Peter Davidson from Montrose FC / Links Park Community Trust. I’d like him to share, as an active member of a very much community-driven club, how they are handling the current situation and what are their next steps following the pandemic.

If you want to know more about Bálint Máté and his work at Ferencvárosi TC, you can visit his Linkedin profile.


Community Champions League

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Fradi School Program

In 2015, Ferencváros started a brand new project. For the 2015/16 school year, the club arranged many visits to ...