Homeless World Cup Foundation

The Homeless World Cup uses football to help improve the lives of homeless people around the world. We stimulate the creation of international football programmes in every continent. We organise an annual world class football tournament Homeless World Cup in a major global city to promote and celebrate the work of our International Partners.
Dec 19, 2012

Player's Profile: Lukes, South Africa

Lukes, on the left, in Mexico City
Lukes, on the left, in Mexico City

The Homeless World Cup has a real impact in the lives of thousands of homeless people all year-long. Meet a few players for whom the motto "A ball can change the world" became a reality!

Always smiling and joking, Lukhanyo ‘Lukes’ Mjoka is much loved by the children he works with and respected by those who work with him. To meet him you would never guess that he is a reformed gangster, alcoholic and drug addict. Lukes personal journey has taken him from the poverty stricken townships around Cape Town to living on the streets of the Central Business District and then through his love of football to working as a volunteer with Oasis, a community development organisation working in Grassy Park and Homeless World Cup's partner in South Africa.

Early life

As a young boy, Lukes moved with his mother from the poor and rural Eastern Cape to the more prosperous Western Cape, but Lukes remembers very little about his mother as she spent long periods working away on farms. “I don’t remember even saying the word mommy” he said. Lukes’ grandmother, Marhadebe, looked after him, running a shebeen to make ends meet.

Lukes didn't attend school, but developed social skills and learned to count by interacting with the customers. His grandma would say that he was intelligent and there was no need for him to go to school. One day when on break he wandered down to the local train station, that day everything changed. On one of the platforms, Lukes discovered a wallet, which he showed to two older men. The two men took the wallet saying there is nothing of value in it, then told Lukes he should get on the train with them and come begging. Lukes was intrigued and so got on the train with the two men, a journey that was to take him to a life of the streets.

The train took Lukes from Khayelitsha to Mitchell’s Plain where his new acquaintances showed him how to beg for money, something that he quickly got the hang of. From October 1994 to January 1995, only nine years of age, Lukes slept each night rough on the streets. Grandma Marhadebe did not know if he was dead or alive. Eventually the men decided that Lukes was of no further value to them and dropped him off at a shelter called the Homestead.

Lukes stayed at the shelter and attended school quickly excelling and moving up through the grades. Lukes found that there was little to do at weekends and so he drifted back to the streets to beg and sleep, returning to the shelter from Monday to Friday. As Lukes grew older he left the Homestead in city centre and moved back to Khayelitsha in time to start High School.

Turning to drugs and crime

In 2003, Lukes' mother past away and he decided to go and live with his sisters, but the shack in which they lived in was not big enough for one, let alone two or more, so it was hard living with his sisters in such cramped conditions. Lukes eventually got his own shack which gave him and his sisters some space, but it was also to become another dark turning point in his life. Once his friends knew that Lukes had his own place they abused their friendship by using his home as a place to stash guns or drugs.

Lukes tried to stay as clear as he could from any illegal activity. He studied and passed a two year catering qualification and afterwards found himself a full time job. Back in his shack though friends would regularly stop by and bring alcohol with them. Lukes started to drink and was soon drinking heavily! "The drinking turned to girls, from girls we turned to guns and from guns turned to robbery”. Lukes lost his job and needing to make money was drawn by his friends into a life of crime. He now regrets this part of his life and says he did not like robbing people, but it was a means of survival. During this time Lukes witnessed several shootings.

Lukes started by abusing alcohol and had become a smoker, soon though he was smoking marijuana and taking pills. Next he was introduced to the highly addictive crystal meth or Tik as it is known locally. Lukes continued to smoke Tik for about three month before he decided that he needed to sell it as well.

Months later Lukes went to a known suppliers house far from his home and purchased 4kg of Tik. He was stopped by the police who searched him and found the drugs. The police confiscated the drugs without charge and then drove him to the train station where they put him on a train for Khayelitsha. This was one of two moments in Lukes' life where he believes that God intervened and saved him.

Turning life around

Back home in Khayelitsha, Lukes decided it was time to sort himself out and leave crime behind. The incident with the police affected Lukes and he knew it was time to think more positively about his life. Around the same time he bumped into a childhood friend called Tools, who told Lukes that he was volunteering with the Homeless Street Soccer Team. Lukes liked football so this was something that interested him. Tools informed Lukes of trials that were being held for the South African Homeless World Cup Team and Lukes decided this was something that he should try out for.

Soon afterwards, a close friend of Lukes called Thobela was shot in the spine leaving him paralyzed. This happened one night when Thobela was out with friends who were members of a gang that Lukes had been associated in the past, but was staying away from. Thobela became depressed and became dependent on drugs that lead to his death. The bullet may not have killed him, but it eventually claimed his life. This experience impacted on Lukes who decided he needed to focus hard on the soccer trials and get away from the violence and drugs. He found it hard to completely give up his addiction but he made himself a promise that if he could get onto the SA Homeless World Cup Team he would give up the drugs completely.

Lukes made it into the top 8 and was selected as Captain on the squad to fly out to Brazil for the Homeless World Cup. This gave Lukes the confidence and inspiration to turn his back on drugs and alcohol. Reflecting back on his past he looked at himself and said "if I can achieve this then others can too". After his return from Brazil, Lukes went to live and work at the Oasis Project in Grassy Park. He now goes into schools and teach both soccer and life skills to children as well as working on the SA Homeless Street Soccer programme.

Since traveling to Brazil Lukes has also been to Paris and to Mexico this year with the Homeless World Cup Team. His visit to Brazil inspired him and his dream is to open an foundation similar to Oasis there with a friend in Rio de Janeiro.

Lukes story shows that it does not matter how difficult your life circumstances are. With a positive attitude you can overcome the challenges life throws at you. If you commit yourself you can truly make something of yourself and a difference in the life's of others. From the township of Khayelitsha to the hills of Rio! Lukhanyo Lukes Mjoka is someone born from poverty destined to make a great impact on the life's of others.

Nov 7, 2012

Mexico City 2012 Homeless World Cup Legacy

The Homeless World Cup latest annual tournament took place from October 6th to October 14th in the Mexican capital and saw players from more than 50 countries compete in this once in a lifetime event. You can find tons of pictures and videos about the tournament here. 

For all these men and women from Mexico, Indonesia, England, Switzerland or any other participating country these few days will make a massive difference. Many will go home and find their way back into society: go back to school, find a job, stay involved in their national street football programmes or simply unite with their families again.

But the legacy does not stop here; Daniel Copto, manager of the Mexico Homeless World Cup teams, talks of his hope that the recent tournament will create a lasting impact for homelessness in Mexico.

Homelessness in Mexico City

 Many "treatment centres" for addicts use outdated and sometimes cruel methods and Daniel's dream is to create a place where the victims of drugs and the homeless are treated as human beings, as part of his football-based programme.

As young men kicked a ball around in a paved area near Hidalgo metro station, some of them already high on drugs just after dawn, he talked about how he started the programme five years ago, building trust with young men destroyed by sniffing glue.

Many of them have been hanging around here for up to 10 years and it's amazing they have managed to survive. "It's a long time to die," said Daniel.

Empowerment through football

The programme has steadily grown through the years. Today, there are over 7,000 people coming along every week to play football, in various locations nationwide. But even though he can feel proud of his achievements so far, Daniel is more concerned about the future - and the hundreds of thousands of "invisible" people who have no identity papers and are therefore excluded from basic public services, as well as the addicts and people escaping from violence and crime. The poorest of the poor.

"As far as the authorities are concerned, these people do not exist," said Daniel. Since he returned to Mexico five years ago from Canada to set up the programme, Daniel has been trying to "change the culture" - how addicts are treated. "These people feel like a piece of s**t," said Daniel. "And you have to tell them they are not a piece of s**t, so they can do whatever it takes to get better."

"We must build trust," he said. "Empower them."

Then as he kicks a ball back to one of the guys playing football, Daniel sums up his approach in one word:

"Respect."

Sep 17, 2012

Getting ready for the Mexico City 2012 Homeless World Cup

Mexico City 2012 Homeless World Cup
Mexico City 2012 Homeless World Cup

In less that one month, the Mexico City 2012 Homeless World Cup will take place in the heart of the Mexican Capital.

Teams from all around the world, including Italy, Zimbabwe, India and Nigeria will bring players to represent their country proudly and for one of them, win the Homeless World Cup trophy. 

Current champions, Scotland, will try to keep their title with 8 new players.

Every donation you make helps us support our partners around the world and there are 73 of them! Our international annual tournament is the celebration of all the hard they do all year round and the opportunity for them to showcase the world how football can help homeless people. 

With the tournament approaching so fast, we wanted to tell you about some of the teams' preparations!

ITALY

The Italy team held a 3-day training camp in Gatteo Mare. 15 players were invited to play in front of Italian coaches who will pick the final 8 to compete in Mexico City.

ZIMBABWE

Zimbabwe are stepping up their preparations for the Homeless World Cup in Mexico City and coach Farai Mweta is confident of bringing home some silverware.

The Zimbabwe Youth Achievement Sports for Development have already selected nine players to take part in Mexico City. Seven of the team’s players were drawn from Hartcliffe Extension while the other two are from Mbare and Mutoko, respectively.

Coach Farai Mweta is optimistic ahead of  Mexico City: “There are still a lot of things which need attention.  For instance, players are still training without soccer boots and football shirts. The challenges might be there but I am still confident we can bring one of the trophies home because we are working with a talented group of players who are hungry for success. We want to go and lift our Zimbabwean flag high out there.”

INDIA

The Indian team from Slumsoccer-KVS would be representing India at the Homeless World Cup Mexico 2012. 

The girls who participated in the Women’s National Slum Soccer Championship held at Nagpur recently and selected to represent the Indian contingent, are currently in full preparation for the world cup in Mexico. Thenmozhi, Shilpa, Shankari, Pavitra, Mahadevi, Rukmini, Nikita and Divyaganga are all youngsters who have tried to not let their backgrounds get the better of them. Most of their mothers are daily laborers and some of their fathers are violent alcoholics and almost all have had an oppressed childhood. And yet, the girls have no fear of going head to head with their counterparts from other parts the world. More importantly, they are able to assess themselves objectively. “My coordination and stamina have improved with training and being selected to represent India has given my confidence a boost!” chirps Thenmozhi. She playfully groans about the rigours of training; calling it a lot of hard work!! But she realizes that thanks to the opportunity provided by Slum Soccer, she has a future where she can help more girls from similar backgrounds to break the shackles of poverty and see their hopes culminate into reality. She feels training for football is a stepping stone to a better future, with all its concurrent benefits.

NIGERIA

Nigeria has announced its first ever women’s squad for the Homeless World Cup, to be held in Mexico City from October 6-12, while the Netherlands women will be represented by the team from Utrecht who won the recent Dutch Street Cup.

Search and Groom, a community project in Nigeria which focuses on sports for social development, selected its squad after three weeks of trials. Nine players were selected and a further six players are on standby.

Six of the players were selected from Lagos, Sarah Iloduba, Toyosi Alogba, Nimot Ahmad, Peace Ozehudu, Sudan Abidoye and Omolara Kolawole, plus Regina Otu, Glory Henshaw and Edikan Udoh from Calabar, with Rita Monday, Funmilola Adediran, Ololade Fadoyin, Damilola Omotosho, Uduak Jimmy and Ruth Unwana on standby.

For information on other teams and to follow the Mexico City 2012 Homeless World Cup, please visit our website www.homelessworldcup.org or follow us on Facebook!

Italy getting ready!
Italy getting ready!
Nigeria
Nigeria's women training hard

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