Football is a global game. In every corner of the planet you will find people playing football, talking about football, watching football. On a local level it is a community game and every football club plays a part in its local area from amateur through to professional.
Football can bring us together and provide people with an identity, a purpose and a sense of belonging. So it is great when you see football put its power and influence to good use to make a real difference to people’s lives.
The idea of football being used for good was the inspiration for the creation of the Homeless World Cup. A charity that has a vision to use “the power of football to energise homeless people so they can change their own lives.”
To learn more about the beginnings of this fantastic charity you have to look back to South Africa in 2001 and a homelessness conference in Cape Town. Two men, an Austrian and a Scotsman, had the idea that football could be used to try and “change the lives of homeless people through football”.
Mel Young (co-founder of the ‘Big Issue’) and Harald Schmied set out to try and organise an event that would bring people together and help support those affected by homelessness. In 2003 they managed to organise the first ever Homeless World Cup in Austria and the event has been running ever since.
The charity aims to help homeless people gain new skills, confidence and support in order to give them a fresh start in life and an opportunity for a new beginning. Working with partners in 70 countries worldwide, the charity aims to support a variety of initiatives with the vision of providing lasting change for those in need. There are hundreds of thousands of people worldwide that take part in these projects globally.
Each year the Homeless World Cup provides a focal point and a celebration of that vision. This year’s competition is due to take place in Chile (19th-26th October) and is set to be one of the biggest yet. There will be 64 participating nations with over 100,000 spectators watching the action unfold in Santiago.
The football on offer at the World Cup is slightly different to what you might expect. The games themselves are short, small sided matches with only 4 players from each side on the pitch. This means the games are fast and skilful and it also means the fans are usually highly entertained!
Helping the Homeless World Cup
Just like any charity the Homeless World Cup relies heavily on donations and fundraising. You can see examples of what people have done to help on their website, and suggestions on the kinds of things people can do to help raise funds in the future.
The Homeless World Cup is an inspirational example of just how football can be a force for good and positive change. However it is unfortunate that as I type there are stories emerging from Brazil that homelessness is on the rise due to the ‘real’ World Cup. This shows that football is not always a force for good, but in the case of the Homeless World Cup it only reaffirms my belief that football can really change people’s live for the better.
Have a look at the Homeless World Cup website – www.homelessworldcup.org
Or check them out on Twitter – @Homelesswrldcup
Finally, a word from someone who was involved in the Homeless World Cup, Michelle da Silva –
“The Homeless World Cup is a major life experience. You create friendships and set the right attitude to succeed in your life and in football.”