"Your marks for schools" is a new education initiative in Germany, launched by children's aid organisation UNICEF at a gala benefit match played on Monday evening in Dusseldorf. According to the German Central Bank, German households still possess the huge sum of 14.7 billion German marks, despite the introduction of the Euro five years ago. To mark UNICEF's 60th birthday, German families are being asked to track down and donate what has been termed their "sleeping currency".

Marks and pfennigs will be collected up to and including 31 December in the biggest charitable education campaign ever mounted in Germany. The leftover coins and notes from the previous currency will be used to improve educational opportunities in Germany and around the world.

Funds will be deployed in support of national and international education projects. A fundamentally well-educated population is considered a pre-condition for positive societal development and long-term competitiveness. "A good education for all is the key to future success. I welcome this initiative as a national donation programme in aid of education projects in Germany and the developing world," commented Dr. Annette Schavan, Federal Minister for Education and Research and patron of the campaign.

"Your marks for schools" received a fanfare launch on Monday at a star-studded benefit fixture in Dusseldorf featuring all-time greats of the national and international game. Ahead of kick-off, 3,000 kids directed by renowned lighting artist Gert Hof formed the largest UNICEF logo in the world out on the pitch in Dusseldorf. 

Big name cast in Dusseldorf
Back in December, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and a host of superstars laid on a festival of football in the North Rhine-Westphalian capital in a "Match against Poverty". A host of famous figures was again present on Monday. The International team was coached by Brazil boss Carlos Dunga and his assistant Jorginho, with their German opponents marshalled by Otto Rehhagel, currently in charge of reigning European champions Greece.

Dunga had no hesitation in accepting UNICEF's invitation to take part. "My parents gave me the wonderful opportunity of a good education, but not everyone is so fortunate," he declared. Back in his home country, the man at the Seleção helm has founded a project offering social assistance to young people. "You have to do what you can," added Rehhagel, equally delighted to help out in a good cause.

The evening received additional support from UNICEF ambassador Oliver Bierhoff, a high-profile backer of the initiative. "Everyone should look around at home, see how many D-Mark coins they can scrape together, and donate these to our project. It must be possible to collect a decent amount," the Germany team manager declared.

The crowd was treated to plenty of entertainment out on the pitch too, where former Austria hitman Toni Polster fired Team International into a 17th minute lead, only to see his effort cancelled out on 27 minutes by ex-Germany star Fredi Bobic in Team Deutschland colours. Honours were even at half-time with a 2-2 scoreline, before the Germans squeezed home 5-4 at the end. However, the real winners on the night were children around the world, set to benefit from a better education funded by the generosity of ordinary German families.