Tag Archives: Bjorn Heidenstrom

Bjorn Heidenstrom Reaches South Africa

After 335 days on the road, cycling from Oslo in Norway, via Ronda, and to Johannesburg in South Africa, Bjorn Heidenstrom, the crazy Norwegian cyclist has finally had his dream come true, seeing all of the football shirts he collected turned into a giant flag which will be flown at the opening game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Bjorn arrived in South Africa from Botswana on May 20th 2010, and made his way to Johannesburg, arriving yesterday just in time for the official opening of the biggest of the new stadiums being built to host the World Cup, and only moments before South Africa’s President Zuma arrived to inspect stadium, and sign Bjorn’s flag.

The Shirt 2010 is a massive yet solo project to raise awareness for the world’s many millions of refugees, over 45 million according to United Nations estimates, people who have been forced out of the homes by war, famine, and natural disasters, but are sadly forgotten.

While he was in Ronda, Bjorn was keen to stress that his project is not about a European footballer having a good time, Bjorn proudly wore a UNHCR cap and emphasised that his mission isn’t to raise funds, his goal was simply to make people think about the world’s refugees, and then to tell their friends about these people, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, just like us, but who are forced to live without security, and perhaps without clean water or shelter.

Known during his footballing days as ‘Heiden’, Bjorn passed through Ronda in late November 2009 and was greeted by the councillor for sport, Carlos Mirasol, and the children’s football league UD Ronda. Bjorn was presented with a CD Ronda and UD Ronda shirt, both of which have now been included in the world record breaking shirt (pictured above).

It is not too late to support Bjorn, he will be raising awareness for refugees throughout the FIFA World Cup, you can read more about his travels on the official ‘The Shirt 2010‘ website, or if you have a football shirt you’d like to donate to Bjorn’s campaign, please contact Ronda Today and we’ll make sure it gets to Bjorn.

Bjorn Heidenstrom in Ronda

The 28th November 2009 was an exciting day for the under thirteen Union Deportivo Ronda football team as they were treated to a visit by Bjorn Heidenstrom, former Norwegian International and first division football player who is cycling from Norway to South Africa collecting signed football shirts, and raising awareness for the world’s 45 million refugees.

Bjorn has been cycling for six months already, and arrived in Ronda at 10am after a grueling cycle up the San Pedro highway from Marbella. He certainly lived up the nickname “Crazy Norwegian”. His day in Ronda is part of an extended trip that sees him cycle to Córdoba, then Madrid, and Barcelona before catching a ferry to Italy, the Balkan nations, Greece, Turkey, and Syria.

A decision then needs to be made on the route Bjorn will take cycling to Egypt before cyclng to Cape Town via Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, and the Southern African countries. Bjorn is hoping to be in Johannesburg in May. Then he and some volunteers will stitch all of the shirts collected together into a single large flag that FIFA and the South African Football Association have agreed will be flown at the opening game of the Soccer World Cup in June 2010.

Bjorn Collecting Ronda Football Shirts
Bjorn Collecting Ronda Football Shirts

Football shirts collected from CD Ronda and UD Ronda will be amongst the other many hundreds of signed football shirts, including those from FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, FC Valencia, Manchester United, Liverpool FC, Dynamo Moscow, and many more top teams yet to be visited.

Refugees are one of the world’s greatest tragedies, and are a group of people with the least ability to represent themselves, with the overwhelming majority forced into camps for displaced people, or taken into care by charitable groups. Refugees don’t have the ability to work to make a living, they aren’t able to provide for their families, and they exist in a sort of half legal half outcast situation.

Ronda Today is proud to be one of the many supporters and sponsors of Bjorn Heidenstrom as he cycles from Norway to South Africa to give the world’s many refugees a voice. His approach is proving successful, over 50 million people have watched Bjorn’s travels on television or in his YouTube channel, and sponsors are lining up to offer funds to the Refugee Council and UNHCR.

With Bjorn’s enthusiasm and our support we can make a difference, and we can put the plight of refugees firmly where it belongs, in the news and in front of prime ministers and presidents of the world’s family of nations.

Bjorn Heidenstrom at Hotel Ronda
Bjorn Heidenstrom at Hotel Ronda

Bjorn would like to thank Carlos Mirasol García, councillor for sport for his active encouragement and allowing Bjorn to meet the future football stars of Ronda, Hotel Ronda for providing Bjorn with a room and hot shower for the night, Bar La Bola on Carrera Espinel for graciously providing Bjorn with lunch, Restaurant El Predicatorio for graciously providing Bjorn with breakfast. Charlotte Wilmot and Alonso Jiménez González were invaluable friends who worked tirelessly to ensure Bjorn’s trip to Ronda was a success. Thank you all.

So, what happens now? Bjorn is on his way, and the plight of refugees could be forgotten now that we’ve had our fun. But Ronda Today cannot let this happen. We’ll be following Bjorn’s travels as he makes his way to South Africa, and we’ll be helping to organise workshops and fund raising activities to let Bjorn and the Refugee Council know that Rondeños want to help make a difference. Please join us. Send us an email (admin@rondatoday.com) and tell us if you can help Bjorn collect signed football shirts, or if you’d like write Bjorn a message of support.

We’re not asking for money, we’ll find sponsors for that, what we are asking for is your good wishes. You can read about Bjorn’s travels directly on his website, theshirt2010.net, or follow him on Twitter, @heidenstrom.

Here’s a selection of photos taken of Bjorn in Ronda.

Canal Charry Interview with Bjorn in Ronda