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Many "treatment centres" for addicts use outdated and sometimes cruel methods and Daniel's dream is to create a place where the victims of drugs and the homeless are treated as human beings, as part of his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:
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!
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 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.”
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 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!
Written by Deborah Ball, the Homeless World Cup Foundation Director of International Development.
March 4th was D-Day in Chennai, the time when the 7 young people we had been working with took centre stage and delivered the first sessions of the #FootballFirst Coach Education Programme to 20 new coaches.
They did not have the luxury of a classroom to work in and while the billowing "walls" of the tent provided a welcome fan-like effect in the South Indian heat and humidity, it was a real challenge to keep hold of flying flipcharts and folders.
Andy, Scott and I were confident that they would do a good job, but all three of us had goosebumps at frequent intervals during the day.
To see the "Slum Soccer Seven" move seamlessly through the programme - delivering top quality sessions, coping with translation in three languages, dealing with the inevitable one or two “difficult” participants… all with endless encouragement and support to each other was truly remarkable. They also dealt with photographers and journalists throughout the day, giving interviews and posing for photos whenever required.
The team exceeded our expectations, but were positively critical of their own performance and discussed areas for improvement tomorrow, raising the bar themselves.
One of the participants remained behind to congratulate them on their skills and assured performance – pointing out that many CEO’s would struggle to deal with public speaking and presentation skills so successfully, a great boost to their confidence!
‘Football is our way of engaging with and publicising the problems surrounding homelessness around the world.’ – Deborah Ball, Homeless World Cup
When Deborah Ball first started working for the Homeless World Cup, lots of their national partners around the world told her that they couldn’t expand their football programmes on the ground because they didn’t have enough coaches. The issue was prominent especially at grassroots level, where the coaches were appointed to work not just on the football, but also needed to have the experience of working with the homeless. With this in mind, Deborah and her team designed a modular course called ‘Football First’.‘We decided on “Football First” because for us football does come first: it’s the first intervention as a tool of engagement for the national partners to work with homeless people,’ says Deborah.India has a population of 170 million living on the streets and 260 million people living on less than a dollar per day. Deborah first visited the Homeless World Cup’s Indian partner, Slum Soccer, back in 2008 to implement a coaching programme that was to be the first of it’s kind in Central India. The programme enabled Slum Soccer to conduct regular football sessions for over 800 people in 7 different areas in Central India. Seeing how successful the first programme had been, the English Premier League funded Deborah and her team to fly back to Slum Soccer base, Nagpur, in February 2012 to deliver a series of coaching project over a 17 day period.
India’s passion for cricket has, unfortunately, caused sporting associations’ attention to drift away from other sports in the country. A tragic incident earlier this month saw the death of a young footballer in Bangalore who collapsed during a game, with no medical facilities on site to come to his aid. However, a certain demand and enthusiasm for project Football First tells us that there are many reasons for football federations in India to step up their game.‘I think as more people get to see international matches and the Premier League and Champions League on TV and some of the big clubs beginning to sell their merchandise in India – there’s a growing awareness of interest in football,’ explains Deborah. ‘For us, it is an international language that you can play; you don’t even necessarily need an actual football to play with. We’ve gone back to do our second training course because the popularity is growing so much. The first coaches we trained are working on average with 60-70 young people in each session they’re running. The demand is definitely there.’
Popularity for the game doesn’t exist solely amongst the men of India. Even the women, who have been more or less absent in the cricket scene, are eagerly involved with Football First. At the first coach education programme 2 years ago, there were very few women participating, however, this year Deborah notes that 4 out of 7 of the participants are female. She describes these women as ‘great role models for other women coming through the programme’ and has expressed her amazement at the level of improvement she has seen in their game. Young women who could barely kick a ball when the first coach education programme was delivered are now playing in the state team.
‘Seeing the enthusiasm at grassroots level and, for us, the bedrock of football is that belief and developing your players, we think far more attention should be placed on creating a good solid grassroots movement to build the football culture of the country,’ says Deborah.Participants in the Football First project are people from the slums, ranging between the ages of 16-30. The project is committed to ‘bringing sporting opportunities to the most marginalised people.’ Slum Soccer and Football First work together to recruit the soon-to-be coaches, selecting them on their levels of dedication and enthusiasm towards becoming a coach, rather than their technical football skills. The initial coaching course is a 5-day course, which mentors them to become trainers. The course also teaches them communication skills, how to plan, how to record and evaluate their work, how to create the right learning environment, etc. At the end of the programme, the newly trained coaches hold a large football festival for about 140 children to demonstrate the skills they’ve learnt.
The coaches go on to train in a variety of different settings. While some of them go off and set up their own little projects, others coach in schools, for Slum Soccer, and some even land up coaching in private schools where they are able to secure a stable income to provide a comfortable lifestyle for themselves and their families.‘Slum Soccer work very hard to identify as many opportunities to practice their coaching as they can,’ says Deborah. ‘The organisation has been able to set up centres in many more areas than they have previously, expanding the coaching opportunities available.’
The Homeless World Cup organisation believes that football brings people together, and it is with that thought in mind that they began working with Slum Soccer. Slum Soccer’s programme involves bringing in health educators, psychologists, and people who talk through any issues they feel the players might be faced with or might need support with. Slum Soccer finds appropriate government bodies or organisations to come in and fill the gaps in the players’ lives, providing access to services that they are otherwise unable to connect with. All this is done through the creation of a simple football project that will ultimately better these people’s lives.
‘Everybody who would like the opportunity to play should be given that opportunity,’ says Deborah. In the long term, Football First would love to see Slum Soccer have a presence in every slum in India, to offer opportunities where people would like to be playing football. Deborah believes that with the enthusiasm that has been shown, such ambitions are not unattainable.With a large homeless population, India needs a project like Football First that unite people and add structure to their lives. Having to turn up to matches and training sessions, having to make sure they’re clean and sober enough to be able to do that, those are all issues that can be tackled just by involving them in a team where they feel needed.‘They become connected with other people again,’ Deborah explains. ‘I think one of the key similarities that homeless people feel around the world is a real sense of isolation. It gives them a new motivation, builds their confidence, their self esteem. It builds lots of different soft skills; skills that are transferable to the rest of their lives.’
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