It’s FIFA, FIFA everywhere. In the dining room, in office halls, in newspapers, on social media and on everyone’s mind and lips. Every win and loss, every goal and miss, foul and penalty is the hot topic of discussion.
But did you know there is another less famous World Cup?
Its players are not celebrities paid in millions; they live on the fringes of society without a job. They do not live in mansions; in fact they don’t even have a home. They do not have any of those things that other people take for granted. Who are they?
They are a part of one billion homeless people in the world and the other World Cup they play for is the Homeless World Cup (HWC).
Strongly believing that football can change lives for the homeless, Mel Young from Scotland and Harald Schmied founded this World Cup in 2001. Two years later in 2003, the first Homeless World Cup took place in Graz in Austria. The 12th edition of this event is about to take place in Santiago, Chile in October 2014.
So does this World Cup actually help in improving the lives of homeless around the world? YES, it does! Since 2003, the HWC has mobilized and supported locally-run football programs for homeless community members in more than 70 countries globally. Besides professional football training, the HWC programs help each player in dealing with drug or alcohol dependency, moving into jobs, finding homes, getting educated and repairing relationships.
Here’s an interesting finding: An impact study done on 25,000 players participating in football training programs for 2007 World Cup showed that 93 percent players reported a new motivation for life, 83 percent reported improved social relations, 38 percent reported improved housing situations, 32 percent reported re-entering the education system, 29 percent reported they had found employment and 71 percent say they now play regularly.
Alex, a player from Africa who lived in one of the worst slums in his country, pointed out in the documentary “Kicking it”, “I will not be playing football in the toilets. I will be playing professional football…as I always dreamt.” Truly, a ball can change Alex’s life and that of millions others like him.
Watch this visually captivating and inspiring presentation on the Other World Cup by Empowered Presentations:
The presentation beautifully puts it about the other World Cup, “There are not thousands of screaming fans. But each player plays for something bigger than money, fame or fortune. They play for a second chance in life.” A life of dignity.
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References: Official website of Homeless World Cup and Documentary on Homeless World Cup 2006 “Kicking It”