Homeless World Cup

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Changing lives

27 September; Author: World Cup Willy

There’s lots of fun being had out in Rio, by staff, volunteers and players, but behind all that is a much more important issue – homelessness. It’s difficult to see that it exists here at the Copacabana Stadium, as everyone is on the same level together, living together, playing together, experiencing together, but there are a wide range of stories that the players have to tell. I wanted to find out a bit more about it … read on …

Paraguay: The Paraguayan girls’ team is made up of girls from five different cultures and two of the team had no recognised identities 2 weeks before the tournament. It seems extraordinary that something we take for granted at birth back home is not available to people, even through their teens and into their early twenties. Julia Corvala, from Fundacion Paraguay and travelling with the Paraguayan team, was also able to tell The Homeless World Cup a little more about the girls´ backgrounds. ‘Forty percent of people in Paraguay live under the poverty line, 20% are in extreme poverty. The girls who come to us all live below the poverty line, with families living on only $2 per day’ she said. Fundacion Paraguay work with the Nike Foundation, who awarded them a $1.6 million grant to run the Mbaracayu Educational Centre. The school, based in the forests of a UNESCO natural forest reserve is completely financially self-sufficient and environmentally conscious. They provide the opportunity for young women, some of whom represent the Paraguay team, to finish high school and even to continue to University level. (Quote and information from Julia Corvala is from The Homeless World Cup website)

India: The 2 Indian teams are largely made up of orphans aged 18-20. They’ve been living in accommodation provided by a local charity in central India for as long as they can remember. Just 2 years ago, a Football Box (a bundle of equipment and coaching programme) was given to them so they could implement a youth training programme in their home town and initially 20 coaches successfully went through the programme. Now there are 123 coaches trained locally through this initiative and their first 2 teams have entered The Homeless World Cup, one of them winning the award for fair play. The organiser of the Indian teams is expecting the programme to continue, as it offers their participants the chance for personal development and to learn how to engage with society and other people – something that has been experienced fully at The Homeless World Cup (and something I have seen in them – a largely shy and retiring team now chats, laughs and jokes openly with players from other nations, even with a language barrier).

Palestine: Team Palestine are made up of homeless refugees, now living in camps in Lebanon to escape the conflict at home. Their families are poor and many people in these camps will have experienced hunger, murder and aggression. In the summer, their tents are hot, like ovens, and in the winter, temperatures drop to freezing. They have lives that no one would want to live and their only outlet is sport, hence the opportunity offered by The Homeless World Cup. The Rio 2010 Organising Committee have worked hard to ensure that Team Palestine can take part in this years’ competition, overcoming a wide range of hurdles, and the hard work is paying off, as the players make the most of their time here and integrate with other nations well, often being the centre of attention in groups, as they chat, eat and kick a ball around.

Croatia: Since we first met last weekend, following a cheeky exchange of facial expressions and (innocent) hand gestures, Ivan (38 from Croatia), and I have built a relationship of respect and trust. Despite his limited English and my non-existent Croatian we managed to get a few minutes to talk about his life and what it means to be at The Homeless World Cup. Ivan was involved in the Yugoslavia war in the early 1990s. His participation was reluctant and his experiences drove him to drink and drugs for many years. Through the church in his home town, near Split, Ivan has received support and worked hard to improve his life and be clean of drink and drugs. He sees his time in Rio as a great opportunity to step forward in his life and to take the inspiration he has found from meeting others and playing football with them. He returns this week to his home town, with fresh hope for a positive future.

2 Responses to “Changing lives”

  1. youth soccer says:

    Found your site via Bing, great content, keep up the great work.

  2. Thanks for the message!

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What is this all about?

This is all about creating new futures for people ... through football. It's simple! And more than 500 people from across the world will have the opportunity by taking part in the 2010 Homeless World Cup. The event raises awareness of homelessness globally and drives people to change their lives with new health, jobs, homes, families and more. If you'd like to sponsor me, please click here.

Who am I?

I'm Wil, a football fan ... and now a volunteer at the 2010 Homeless World Cup. I've taken on the challenge of volunteering for the 2010 Homeless World Cup to combine my passion for football with a desire to help others. I'll be getting my hands dirty at the event, helping in a whole range of ways (lugging around equipment, directing teams, talking to the press, compiling results, writing blogs and more). It's a fantastic opportunity to get involved and to make a difference to so many other people's lives.