Using a sports platform to bring about change in the lives of homeless people around the world is the perfect impetus that drives the Homeless Football World Cup. As the show goes on the road, people around the world cheer for not just the game but an opportunity for the otherwise sidelined communities to get a global podium to showcase their talent.
The idea of hosting a homeless football tournament was sown in 2001, leading to its first game in Graz, Austria, 2 years later. Since then, it has been held every year across the world including Melbourne 2008 and Rio 2010.
The tournament is planned by the Homeless World Cup Foundation charity which operates through a network of more than 70 street football associates around the world. The sport with all its zealous attribute gives homeless people a chance to train with the best and have a chance at changing their lives.
The first Homeless World Cup in 2003 involved 18 teams with Austria beating England in the final. The cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow are the cities which have formerly hosted the free ticket tournament, while host cities include Paris, Milan and Cape Town.
Last year, Mexico City, played host for the second time attracting 160,000 spectators over the week. This year’s event in Cardiff’s Bute Park will include men’s/mixed and women’s teams featuring about 500 players from 48 countries. Finding players is very easy and can be as straightforward as one of its partners working on the ground inviting people in a hostel to have a kick-about. The participation is defined by its simplicity in approach.