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Homeless World Cup

Intrigued to find out more? Click here for the official Homeless World Cup website.

5 a side Competition

Fundraising 5 a side competition was held on 12 August and raised over £650. A full report on the evening's activities is online now. Click here to read it. Photos are also available to view - Click here to see them.

Just Giving

If you are able to donate, please visit my Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/worldcupwilly.
Every pound you give will go towards changing people's lives and will be greatly appreciated. Thank you :)

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Quick Note

Just a quick note to prevent any confusion: I'm not associated with, nor am I trying to pass myself off as, World Cup Willie, the 1966 World Cup Mascot. He's much more popular and handsome than I could ever be. If you want to find out more about him click here

Congratulations to Steve Hall who has completed his 3 month cycle ride around all 92 football league clubs in England and Wales. A fantastic achievement on a less-than-new bicycle! Steve took on this task not to raise money – it was simply to raise awareness of the world´s 45 million refugees.

You can found out more about Steve´s journey at www.theshirt2010.co.uk.

Scorchio! Not a cloud in the sky and not ideal weather of the Germans and Kiwis who both wear black. Temperatures went into the 30s and sun tan lotion was applied liberally to keep the burn away.

Today was another full day of football, finishing after 5pm as the sun set. The first group matches are now complete and the next stage will kick off tomorrow. No one is eliminated from the tournament at this point, as the teams are filtered into groups reflecting their own ability. That means more football for everyone and more opportunities for the teams to experience something special.

Hopefully more photos will follow shortly, as soon as I can tie up USB sticks with internet availability.

Highlight of the day? The bond between the Mexican guys´ and girls´ teams and the support shown for all nations by others.

It has begun … the flagship event for The Homeless World Cup Foundsation is now underway, having started on Sunday with a thrilling 7-6 win by Brazil over fellow South Americans, Chile.

On Copacabana Beach is a stadium with two street soccer pitches built on top of the sand. Inside the stadium are hundreds of players, all full of nerves and excitement, wanting to change their lives through and wanting to do so through football. I´ve spoken to many people here, coaches, players, charity workers, all thrilled by the opportunity to be here and grateful to their sponsors for supporting them on their journey here.

My job since the start of this fabulous event has been to work in the Media & Communications team, getting the tournament news out to the world through the website. I´ve fallen on my feet a bit, as the team needed someone to take photos for the news and match reports and I had brought my DSLR camera with me. I´ve never taken so many photos in such a short space of time … and the subject is one of my favourites, too!

Walking round with my camera, I´ve caught people´s attention and been able to talk to them. It seems the combination of football and a camera will bridge any language issues. Genuinely, there is so much excitement among the players, even if they´ve suffered a 15-0 loss (and there have been a couple of those!) and it´s great to be a part of that. Teams have travelled here from the opposite side of the world, they´ve left war-torn countries, they´ve escaped tragedy hit countries and communities and now have the chance to take their lives forward through their passion for football. I really am pleased to be part of this event.

I´m probably waffling a bit, but my mind has jumped back to yesterday when South Korea took a 9-2 battering by the inform Costa Rica. The Koreans are short on players and their goalkeeper is a guy recovering from alcoholism, who is old enough to be my dad. He stands in his goal, thick-framed glasses on, gloves and shirt a bit too big for him, but full of enthusiasm for the next 14 minutes of this adventure in Brazil. The goals fly past him, as his does his best to parry the ball to safety and he just keeps getting up for more. From the stands, the crowd are chanting “KO-RE-AH, KO-RE-AH”, givig everything they can to encourage the underdogs and this continues to the end of the match when the Koreans leave the pitch. At this point, Hary, a ref from Australia (he is such a top guy – love him to bits already, after meeting him just 3 days ago) beckons the Koreans back to the pitch to face the crowd … who are still chanting KO-RE-AH. Any sign of disappointment in the Koreans´faces simply disappears as they watch, listen and bow to the cheering masses. The guys are thrilled, elated by this experience, really feeling something so special from it. This is what it´s all about – football breaking down barriers and creating passion and excitement among the players, regardless of who they are.

For those back home who are interested, the England team are doing fine. They have won two matches and lost one, scoring 20 goals in the process.

T minus 1

19 September; Author: World Cup Willy

T minus 1 – official event starts tomorrow (Sunday) but today there has been fun and games, as the teams gathered for registration, collection of kit donated by Nike and the group match draw.

It rained! And it rained! And it rained! It could have been Slough or Manchester or Wolverhampton, but this was Copacabana Beach … and it rained all day long! Forecast is not good for tomorrow, and it does dampen things a bit, but so many players made the very best of it – singing, dancing, chanting, embracing each other – all in the name of football. The very best of the high spirits came from the Mexican women, who did all the above, and did it very, very well! They sung, others sung; they danced, others danced; and so began the pattern of them being the centre of attention throughout the day. Wonderful energy from them, to maintain it all day long and what a wonderful sight too.

My job for the week has now been confirmed – I will be working in Media & Communications, photographing the event and writing match reports, player profiles, updating the website and more. Photographing the action today has put me right in the thick of it, meeting lots of people already, talking, laughing, gesturing with hands (when a language barrier is too great to overcome) and, ultimately, getting these guys ready for the experience of their lives. The buzz has already started to move through the event, and it is all generated by football.

The group match draw took place, throwing up some interesting fixtures tomorrow including Brazil v Chile (opening match) and England v Hong Kong. All fixtures, reports etc are online at www.homelessworldcup.org.

Highlights today? Mexican girls getting the action going and Palestine & Haiti teams arriving at the stadium, showing they can turn out for this regardless of anything that has happened recently. Just take a moment to think what their nations have experienced over the last few months and years. And they have still made it here!

It has been far too long (about 3 weeks) since my last post. Leading up to The Homeless World Cup, I barely seemed to get a minute to write anything here, on Facebook or Twitter, as work, weddings and nephews took up most of my time. I only managed pack my bag the night before flying out here and am still expecting to have forgotten something.

Anyway, I am here! I landed in Rio on Thursday night (pleasant 11 hour flight with BA, followed by a ride in a car with a local volunteer whose preference was to take up 2 lanes of the highway at most times). Checked into the hostel and then had a bit of confusion with a guest whose room I was sharing … or apparently not supposed to be sharing!

Friday morning came around quite quickly and I managed to get out to explore the local area before volunteers briefing in the afternoon. The stadium has been built on Copacabana Beach, in view of Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ Redentor … what a setting! Stunning!

Sounds like the organisers have had a few problems with the authorities here, so it is a bit chaotic trying to pull everything together at the last minute. Event officially starts in just over 24 hours, so not long to pull those last few bits together.

Spent many hours with the rest of the team last night stuffing hundreds of media, staff, volunteer and team name badges into plastic ID wallets but also managed to watch the fun start, as the hostel filled up with teams from all over the world. Got to meet some of the players, including teams from France, Holland, Argentina, Hungary, Portugal, Scotland, Romania and Namibia.

Highlight of yesterday was seeing the Namibian team in the hostel, singing and dancing their way down the stairs, into reception and onto the street – complete joy on their faces, as the excitement starts to take hold. I think, with so many teams staying here, with so much passion and respect between the players, the Mellow Yellow hostel is going to be the place to be!

7.37am now … breakfast time … then onto the stadium. Catch up again soon.

Ciao!

News article from The Sun – one of Scotland’s team members at The Homeless World Cup is hoping to use the event as a springboard for a new future. Ryan Wilson, 21, currently lives in a Salvation Army hostel and has got involved with charity Street Soccer Scotland, and he sees this as a great opportunity after living on the streets and dealing with alcohol problems.

Done! Complete! Finished! And £650 raised!

Really pleased … and relieved to have got the event out of the way. In the days leading up to it, I got anxious and was really concerned that I’d forgotten something. And at 5pm, just an hour before the start, the heavens opened and cats, dogs, zebras and giraffes fell from the sky … but it cleared up by 6pm. The money raised on the night puts me much closer to my fundraising target and frees up a bit of brain space, too. Phew!

I’ve written a full report on the event, with pics too, (click here to view it), but, in short, we had 8 teams battle it out through group matches, semi-final and final to win the trophy. 40 goals later, plus a sudden death penalty shoot out, De Lage Lads, from De Lage Landen Leasing Ltd, walked away with the trophy, and their goalkeeper, held high.

Hundreds of raffle tickets were sold too, contributing towards the total raised, and a sincere thanks must go to all the companies who donated items to the raffle. There were some fab ones!

Quick bit of news for you from The Homeless World Cup …

One of the former participants at The Homeless World Cup, a young lad living in a hostel in Lisbon, Tiago Manuel Dias Correia, has just signed for Manchester United for £7m. This season you’ll probably get to know him better as Bebe.

Full article here on the FSF website: http://www.fsf.org.uk/news/homeless-world-cup-star-joins-premier-league.php?id=

Big Day

12 August; Author: World Cup Willy

Big day today. It’s the charity 5 a side competition tonight. 8 teams playing and hopefully lots of spectators too.

The event should be fun rather than serious, as loads of the guys playing haven’t played for years (or more!). I’m expecting my colleagues to get a whooping and finish bottom of their group, but let’s see what they can manage before writing them off.

Raffle is afterwards, with some great prizes, and over 200 tickets sold already. I’ve had some very generous donations from a whole range of organisations and some of the prizes are very attractive. Hoping it’ll bring in a few quid too.

Watch this space for a full report!

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.