EFDN MEMBER OF THE MONTH – NOVEMBER 2023
We’re back with a new EFDN Member of the Month announcement! This November, we are delighted to announce a regular participant at our EFDN Conferences as our Member of the Month: Stabæk Fotball, accompanied by an interview with their Project Manager, Espen Lindmark.
This initiative aims to showcase the outstanding efforts of our member clubs, leagues or FA’s honouring their dedication to using football for positive change in their communities. Each month, we select a deserving member organisation based on its leadership, innovation, and impact on social responsibility. The chosen member gains exclusive visibility across our network and beyond, allowing their inspiring work to be recognised and celebrated.
To celebrate Stabæk Fotball’s nomination, Espen Lindmark accepted our invitation for an interview, enabling us to discover the remarkable experiences as well as his personal stories and initiatives that have led to the club being selected as the EFDN Member of the Month.
A Short Introduction to Espen Lindmark
I’m Espen Lindmark, 65 years old, serving as a Project Manager for the Street Team Project at the CSR department of Stabæk Fotball. I’ve dedicated over a decade of my professional journey to Stabæk Football, joining in the 2009/10 season. This summer I celebrated my tenth anniversary working on the Street Team project as my involvement in the Street Team commenced in 2013.
What makes you smile in your role?
Meeting with the players every Monday and Wednesday at breakfast marks a fantastic start to the week and mornings, filled with warm greetings and hugs. Witnessing someone successfully reintegrate into school or secure a regular job adds an extra layer of joy to the entire experience.
What inspired you to work in the CSR/ESG field and what made you interested in making a difference in the football industry specifically?
The initial inspiration came from observing the rapid accomplishments of Morten Nyborg, an old friend from Stabæk, in Fredrikstad. After spending many years in the fields of economy, banking, and advertising, it became evident to me that the time was ripe to transition into a full-time role in football and make a positive impact on others’ lives. The past 10 years have brought me more fulfilment than I had ever anticipated!
What core values guide your foundation’s work, and how do you ensure your initiatives have a lasting impact?
We operate without a foundation, conducting all our projects and activities directly through the club. To guide our work with the street team, we’ve established core values that shape our daily efforts:
- Inclusive Approach in Everything We Do:
We prioritize inclusivity in all aspects of our work, ensuring that our football and activity initiatives cater to individuals facing drug-related challenges. This approach aims to create an inclusive environment that fosters social development, diversity, and integration.
- Good Structure in Training:
We emphasize the importance of a well-organized and effective training structure. This commitment ensures that our programs are not only engaging but also contribute positively to the well-being and development of the participants.
- Building Teams:
The concept of building teams extends beyond the field. We strive to create a sense of camaraderie and support within the street teams, fostering a community that goes beyond the realm of sports. This team-building approach is integral to our mission and impact.
What’s your favourite project?
My favourite project is Street Team. It is a programme which occurs two days a week, the whole year-round. It includes tournaments, leagues, and matches. All involve eat together, travel together and learn how to be a part of something larger than themselves. By being in this project over time, participants get the opportunity to work in the club on a matchday as volunteers and be in a position for work within the clubs’ partner companies or in other companies in the area, through municipality collaboration. Whether participants carry out a short or long period of job training within the club, our ultimate goal is to move players from the Street Football programme, after being addicts back into work, through taking part in this programme.
Can you share a memorable story that showcases the positive impact of your club’s work?
Daniel Gundersrud’s journey with our street team is truly inspiring and reflective of the transformative impact our club can have. Daniel’s story, chronicled in the local newspaper Budstikka, vividly captures the positive changes he experienced through his involvement with Stabæk’s street team.
In 2017, Daniel, amidst a 20-year battle with drug addiction, joined our street team. At that time, he was still struggling with addiction. Fast forward to today, and Daniel is not only completely drug-free, but he has also found meaningful employment within Stabæk. Since 2019, he has been coaching grassroots football, a role he thoroughly enjoys.
Reflecting on his past, Daniel acknowledges the drastic shift in his life, emphasizing the desperate measures he used to take for money as a drug addict. The support provided by Stabæk’s street team, he emphasizes, played a pivotal role in granting him a new lease on life.
Daniel’s journey is a testament to the power of our street team’s intervention. From battling substance abuse since his teenage years to overcoming the grip of heroin, Daniel’s determination led him to Bærum hospital, where a note about Stabæk’s fixed training times caught his attention. The subsequent call and the club’s prompt response marked the beginning of his transformation.
Since joining Stabæk, Daniel not only quit drinking but also discovered a renewed sense of purpose. His coaching role in grassroots football has not only become a source of personal fulfillment but also a means of positively impacting the lives of others.
Daniel’s story highlights the importance of unity, passion, and structure in overcoming challenges. The supportive community within our street team, coupled with the dedication of volunteers, has proven to be invaluable in the journey toward rehabilitation and rebuilding lives. Daniel’s words resonate with gratitude for the opportunity to have something to be passionate about and a supportive structure that helps individuals veer away from destructive paths.
Ultimately, Daniel Gundersrud’s remarkable turnaround is a shining example of the life-changing impact that our club’s street team can have on individuals battling addiction, providing them with hope, purpose, and a path toward a brighter future.