GLOBAL RECOGNITION … Max Grünewald and Warren Hartland, who completed the international FIFA/CIES Sport Management programme at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University last year, have come second in the 2016 FIFA/CIES Network competition. 

AN innovative project promoting the use of solar energy to light up South African football stadiums, saw two Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) students, Max Grünewald and Warren Hartland, named as runners up in the 2016 FIFA/CIES Network Prize awards.

It is the third year running that students completing the international FIFA/CIES Sport Management programme at NMMU have achieved success in this competition – which this year saw projects from 14 other universities worldwide making it to the finals.

The top prize went to a team of Russian students, whose project focused on developing and implementing a model to improve the sport education system in Russian schools.

Grünewald and Hartland last year completed the international FIFA/CIES course, offered by select universities worldwide, including two other African universities (Egypt and Senegal). Their project was titled “Green Goal: Sustainability in Football.”

Grünewald, 34, said the project proposed “using a daily existing natural energy source – the sun – to create solar energy in order to produce free electricity for a sport facility. By doing so, we protect the environment and generate another income source for sport clubs by saving the monthly payments for electricity.”

The plan is to pilot the project at the Parow training grounds of Ajax Cape Town Football Club, where Grünewald is the General Manager.

“Successfully implemented, it will be the perfect solution for all sport clubs in South Africa and possibly across the globe, on how in the long term they can save money while at the same time doing the right thing, by being environmentally friendly.”

“Its sustainable dimension should become a model for further research,” said CIES Senior Manager for International Relations Vincent Monnier, in his letter announcing the winners.

Grünewald said though he was disappointed at not winning the main prize, which included a trip to FIFA head offices in Switzerland, what was more important were “the friendships we created, the great experiences we gained and the massive knowledge we acquired during the 2015 FIFA/CIES Sport Management programme.”

NMMU programme manager Vernon Oosthuizen said: “Second out of 14 universities that entered the competition from around the world is really great and I am exceptionally proud of Max and Warren because I know how much work and effort they put into it.”

In 2014, NMMU students David Kappel and Yoliswa Lumka (who has since become NMMU’s director of sport) won the competition. Last year, NMMU projects were placed second and third.

“The FIFA/CIES/NMMU Sport Management programme [now in its 10th year at NMMU] is consistently showing itself to be a high quality programme by international standards … It is a sought-after qualification both nationally and internationally.  Over the past nine years, we have consistently attracts students from all over South Africa as well as Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, Lesotho, Botswana and Rwanda. We have also had two students from Europe,” said Oosthuizen.

The course covers seven modules: Management, Marketing, Finance, Sponsorship, Law, Event Management and Communication

Joint-runner up Hartland, 27, who works in marketing in Port Elizabeth, said: “Each module provided extensive knowledge that surpassed my expectations. Due to the vast experiences of my classmates, we were able to share knowledge and learn from each other, which was one of the most rewarding parts of the programme. I am currently on the Port Elizabeth Football Association's Executive Committee and I am now able to pass on the knowledge I've learnt and improve our association within the sports fraternity.

“Special thanks needs to go to FIFA, CIES, NMMU and all our lecturers for their excellent commitment and work which has empowered us to improve ourselves and the sports fraternity.”

Below Max Grünewald and Warren Hartland