The coach of this quirky London club, a fan of Dulwich Hamlet, asked to play a match against a team from the Athletic Club Foundation
Shaolin Badgers is a very special English club. The team is made up mostly of friends from university and plays in one of London’s lower leagues. Despite being an amateur club, they quite often travel the world thanks to Walter Johnson – president, coach, player and soul of this unique club.
The Badgers always choose symbolic places and opponents for their international tours. For example, their trip to the remote Henningsvaer Stadion in Norway’s Lofoten Islands saw them become the subject of a special report on ‘El día después’ (The Day After) – a popular football programme on Spanish television.
Walter found out about Athletic thanks to our collaboration with Dulwich Hamlet for Non-League Day 2022. On that day, a group of Athleticzales visited Dulwich Hamlet’s Champion Hill and Walter, a loyal Hamlet supporter, was in the stands.
The Athletic fans made a great impression on Mr Johnson, so much so that he wrote to Athletic Club telling us about the Shaolin Badgers and his desire to visit Bilbao in order to play a friendly match at Lezama.
After exchanging emails, a fixture was arranged for 5 November. The match took place at Lezama this Sunday, with the Shaolin Badgers facing an Athletic Club Foundation side made up of players from the Goiztiri project, an initiative dedicated to helping homeless people.
The result of the match, 2-1 in favour of the Londoners. But the clash showed there is more to football than what happens on the pitch. Borders and distance are no match for shared social values and community spirit.