Sunday 10th July sees the most inspiring tournament in the world come to Glasgow as the 2016 Homeless World Cup begins.
The Homeless World Cup is a unique and pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. They envisage a world where anyone and everyone who is or becomes homeless can gain access to one of their National Partners’ transformative programmes. Currently, the operate through a network of 73 National Partners to support football programmes and social enterprise development.
On Saturday, teams from 50 countries arrived for the men’s and women’s tournament, arriving at Glasgow International Airport, coming from six continents. The players will be staying at Glasgow Caledonian University, and upon arrival, the players were greeted with dancing and music. 64 teams will participate overall, with 48 teams in the men’s/mixed competition and 16 teams in the women’s competition.
According to Shelter Scotland, 35,764 homeless applications were made in 2014-15, compared to 36,457 in 2013-14. And young people under 25 represent just under a third of applicants (Shelter Scotland 2014). A Scottish Government report released in 2015 stated that in 2014-15, 730,000 people (14%) were in relative poverty before housing costs which are 90,000 fewer than the previous year. 45% of all people who become homeless are single male, with the single female rate 21% (Shelter Scotland 2014).
The Homeless World Cup’s National Partner in Scotland is Street Soccer Scotland, which was founded in 2009 by David Duke, and represents Team Scotland at the Homeless World Cup every year. They deliver a range of football related personal development and training programmes to socially disadvantaged adults and young people (including Homelessness) across Scotland, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen. Currently, they offer between 30-35 weekly programmes for around 1000 people each week.
However, Street Soccer Scotland is not involved in the operation or delivery of the Homeless World Cup. Its role as a National Partner is the same as the other 51 different countries participating.
The Scottish Men’s side has won the Homeless World Cup twice, in 2007 when it was held in Copenhagen and in 2011 in Paris. Scotland will be entering a side into the men’s and women’s competition, and Tartan Kicks will cover the women’s team.
The 416 matches, between 10 and 16 July, will be held in George Square, where the organisers say will become the most “inspiring place on the planet.”
100,000 spectators are expected to attend the week-long tournament, and whilst entry is free with no tickets required – it is advised that for key games (including Scotland matches) it will be busy, meaning spectators should arrive as early as possible.
HRH, The Duke of Cambridge sent a welcome video to the participants, stating:
“The scale of homelessness across the world is staggering, with 100 million people defined as homeless, and a further 1.6 billion lacking adequate housing. The Homeless World Cup Foundation is taking a unique approach to this problem, using the universal language of football to tackle the issue.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the teams, saying, “The Homeless World Cup is a sporting event like no other. We know that sport has immense power to give people a purpose, to improve both physical and mental health and to boost people’s self-esteem…And let’s not forget the chance to represent your country on the international stage is a huge honour that for many players, was only ever a distant dream. That’s why innovative initiatives such as the Homeless World Cup are so important, and why I’m looking forward to a spectacular and inspiring tournament.”
The Homeless World Cup President Mel Young commented, “Make no mistake, this is going to be the most inspiring event, a resounding success, made possible by players who have dreams, volunteers with heart, and a Scottish public with genuine spirit.”
The 2016 Homeless World Cup is a partnership between the Homeless World Cup Foundation, the Scottish Government (via EventScotland) and Glasgow City Council (delivered via Glasgow Life).