Homeless World Cup

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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.

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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

Posts Tagged ‘Rio de Janeiro’


30 April; Author: World Cup Willy

Finally … after many months … I have uploaded the best 100 photos from the 2010 Homeless World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. Click here to see them.

Just been watching a TV show online, all about Team Canada and their journey to and beyond Rio 2010. Life’s already looking up for them. Click the link to watch it (about 28 minutes long).


I’ve spent many hours this weeks around Mel Young, photographing him, running erands for his team, but not any time to do more than say “hello”. This has scuppered my chances of talking to him in depth about him and The Homeless World Cup, so I’ve compiled a little bit of information from around the internet to give you an insight.

Mel, founder of The Big Issue in Scotland, set up The Homeless World Cup Foundation in 2001 with Harald Schmied, editor of a Austrian street paper. His vision was to unite homeless people through a simple, common language. 18 months after first talking about the issue, Mel and Harald held the first Homeless World Cup in Graz, Austria, with just 18 teams, but outstanding results and lasting impact on the participants’ lives. Based on that success, they rolled out the project in successive years across the world with more than 64 nations taking.

So, Mel’s vision is to start to make a dent in the one billion homeless people in the world, through football. This can only be done in small steps, but through The Homeless World Cup Foundation, their football programmes around the world and the annual competition, the participants can start to take responsibility for their futures and changing the face of homelessness. This has already proven to be working, as more than 70% of participants come move on from The Homeless World Cup into new lives and 94% say the event has had a positive impact on their lives.

All quite simple and effective and, as this years’ t-shirts say, a ball can change the world!

Info taken from Wikipedia and The Homeless World Cup website.

Photo courtesy of www.theskinny.co.uk

Mel Young

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.

They think it’s all over … it is now! There’s no people on the pitch, there’s no Geoff Hurst hattrick and Kenneth Wolstenholme isn’t commentating. But The Homeless World Cup 2010 is now finished.

Brazil ran out winners of the men’s and women’s tournaments with wins over Chile and Mexico, respectively, in front of a stadium packed with players, spectators and media. And earlier in the day Slovenia, Philippenes, Ukraine, Argentina and Austria all won their own competitions … celebrations all round!

The day finished wet, so the trophies were presented in a local school gym – a bit of a dampener at the end of the week, but football and the promise of bright futures for the players was the biggest winner. The prize giving ceremony finished with a party for the players, officials and organisers – hundreds of people mingling, taking photographs, exchanging email addresses and swapping shirts – hundreds of people together because of homelessness and football.

I don’t know exactly what is going to happen from here on, but watching the guys and girls over the last week, I think it’s going to be something good. The plan from The Homeless World Cup is just that … and it seems like there’s every opportunity it could happen. I’m hoping to be able to keep in touch with some of the guys here in Rio, so I’ll be able to see exactly what happens over the coming months and years.

Well done, everyone! Fantastic efforts this week!

Photos courtesy of The Homeless World Cup and Nicolae Stoian/Photographers for Hope

Brazil Men CelebrateBrazil Women CelebratePacked Stadium on Finals Day

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.


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.