My Experience (Updated)
Convicts. Druggies. Gamblers. All neglected by the general public, and treated as people deemed unable to assimilate back into society. They cannot find decent jobs, cannot break their habits, and often have lost all hope in themselves. However, a group of social workers, soccer coaches, and social entrepreneurs never lost faith in them. In 2005, they formed the ‘Society of Community Organization & Wofoo Social Enterprises of Hong Kong’, which helped form a Hong Kong team for the 2005 Homeless World Cup. Since then, Hong Kong has been a yearly participant, and has even started a local Homeless Football league.
This summer, I decided to volunteer at Homeless football, because I needed to fulfill a school obligation of 50 service hours. I emailed vice chairman Mr. Li Tak Nang about helping with the Homeless Football program. Before meeting him in person, I quickly read up on Mr. Tak Nang. I was surprised to find a man with a cushiony job at the Hong Kong Jockey Club volunteering at the a non-profit organization. However, when I met Mr. Tak Nang for the first time, he talked about a book he wrote Life is a match, and the first half is the highlights. His book discusses how players can put what they learn on the pitch in their lives off the pitch. At the instant, I realized why he was passionate about the program. He believes that the organization could use football to teach characteristics of communication, teamwork, and hard work of marginalized individuals.
At my first day volunteering at the office, I met a man who represented what Mr. Tak Nang envisioned the program would achieve. He grew up in a loving family, and at age 18 had it “all”. He had a girlfriend, a good salary, and a lot of friends. He became arrogant and felt that life was dull. Drugs, he thought, would excite his life. Instead, it ruined him for the next few years. His “exciting” life would have continued until he heard about the Homeless World Cup. Upon remembering his joys when playing soccer he was young, along with the requirement of being drug free to attend the tournament, this man made a vow to stop drugs and try and make the world cup team. Seeing how the opportunity to play in the Homeless World Cup motivated so many like him made me realize that more NGOs must use sports as a way to help the marginalized.
Success stories about drug rehabilitation are few and far between. Looking at how sports can be used to motivate people to end their bad habits, I wonder if more drug rehabilitation centers should use sports to motivate their patients. As people only make sacrifices for something they’re passionate about.