The Homeless World Cup: A Must-Visit Tournament For True Fans of Football

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Homeless World Cup

The Homeless World Cup offers participants and fans a platform to dispel the myths about homelessness and to celebrate the game of football. It sheds light on homelessness and its effect on individuals as well as society. 

Players who take part in this tournament include individuals who have been homeless, sellers of street papers, asylum seekers, and individuals in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. 

Various cities have hosted the Homeless World Cup as it has grown to be a global affair. Some of the past hosts include Mexico City, Copenhagen, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Glasgow, and many more. 

A Brief History of the Homeless World Cup

The Homeless World Cup was the brainchild of Big Issue Scotland co-founder Mel Young and Austrian journalist Harald Schmied. This idea came up after they met at a homelessness conference in 2001. 

Young and Schmied came up with this idea over a beer and just after two years the first tournament took place in Graz, Austria. 

At the homelessness conference, they were a little disturbed that they were attending a conference about an issue where the affected parties were nowhere to be seen or argue their cases. For this reason, they decided to come up with their own version that had the homeless. Hence, the Homeless World Cup was born. 

They decided on football because they knew the issues caused by the language barrier that the participants would be faced with. Sport is a universal language and it, therefore, tackled this little hindrance. The end result after the culmination of these great ideas was the birth of a social movement.

The Tournament

The Homeless World Cup includes more than 500 players from over 70 countries across the globe. The games are played in fields that are tennis court-sized. Every game is unique and it’s always an adrenaline-inducing affair. 

Each four-a-side game is played for a total of fourteen minutes. This is seven minutes for each half. In case of a tie, the games go to penalties.

The first ever Homeless World Cup that took place in 2003 had 18 teams in total. Austria came out victorious by beating England in the final. 

The event is a transformative affair that allows homeless people to socialise, share, and build new relationships. Apart from empowering the participants, the Homeless World Cup focuses on social inclusion, health, and fitness. It also tackles issues of housing so as to tackle issues related to homelessness.

According to The Big Issue, the Homeless World Cup is there to give a helping hand. It’s not there to let people down but uplift them from their struggles and offer an avenue for future development and growth. 

Social Media Influence and Story-Telling

The advent of social media has greatly helped the event. The tournament uses Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube channels to spread its wings across the globe. Fans can also view matches online in case they cannot make it to the venue. 

Games are live on Facebook and other videos are available for anyone who wants to watch. These videos help friends, families, players, and fans alike to remember once the tournament is over.

Additionally, the event’s organic social media approach achieves Young’s and Schmied’s vision of having homeless individuals tell their own tale.

Impact of the Tournament

The Homeless World Cup has a big impact on the participants. Many find homes and jobs. Up to 90% of participants report positive results after the tournament.

Stable accommodation, going back to school, employment and reconnecting with families is what mostly comes out of it. Moreover, the Homeless World Cup provides incredible links to friendships as well as support networks. This ranges from fans, organisers, players, and even the general public.

This tournament offers empowerment and encouragement to help the participants to grow and improve their situations. 

Midfielder @ Hooligan F.C.

Donald Maloba is a Kenyan football writer and former football player. He eats, sleeps, and breathes football.

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