Homeless World Cup ©
Description: Football to fight poverty! The Homeless World Cup Organization uses football to inspire marginalized groups. They encourage them to change their lives and unite with others. The group works with 70 nations by supporting and guiding their local network. Each year, they hold a Homeless World Cup to celebrate the work of local organizations. Furthermore, the competition gives players an opportunity to meet and build bonds with others from different countries. Up to date, more than 200,000 peoples lives have been improved by the organization.
How it began: It all began with 2 men searching for an international language to fight poverty. The two men: Mel Young and Harald Schmied found football as the answer. In 2003, they hosted the first Homeless World Cup in Graz, Austria.
Its Success: The organization has helped 73% of its participants change their lives. The players get off drugs and alcohol, remerge into society, and reunite with their families.
How it further helps: Along with the World Cup, the organization provides other types of help. Its National Partners gives access to advice concerning education, health, legal, or employment.
Latest Information: The 2013 Homeless World Cup will be hosted in Ponzan Poland. It will last from 10-18 August 2013.
If you are interested and want to know more, visit: http://www.homelessworldcup.org/
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.