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hwc logoFrom the Streets to the Cape Town 2006 Homeless World Cup

48 nations One goal
24-30 September 2006
The Grand Parade, Cape Town

500 homeless players take a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent their country and change their lives forever.

Or how 1 important writer and his almost-hip photographer chum scored their own not insignificant triumph over one airline's extraordinary incompetence and a modern African city's thriving criminal scene. Well that's how it seemed when myself and Mr Patrick Neate were commissioned by the Independent on Sunday Review Mag to cover the Homeless World Cup 2006 in Capetown. Inspite of these bonus balls we did have some fun - which meant trouble - not to mention a damn good catch up.

Regrets - inevitably, but missing out on a Romantic ramble through the flower festooned valley's of the Western Cape was a big shame - though somewhat compensated by the fun-trouble. Somewhere in the distance the story was rolling, there was a job to be done - here's how the blurb from the HWC press office put it.

"The Homeless World Cup is an annual street soccer tournament, uniting teams of homeless people from around the globe to kick off poverty. 48 countries come together for a fast-paced street soccer tournament full of courage, inspiration, grassroots grit and glory for the 4th Homeless World Cup in Cape Town from 24-30 September 2006. Following huge success in Austria 2003, Sweden 2004, Edinburgh 2005 the Homeless World Cup is becoming recognised as an annual event on the global sporting calendar. The Big Issue South Africa is the host of the Cape Town 2006 Homeless World Cup.

The Homeless World Cup is significantly transforming lives and communities around the world. The feeling of belonging, the challenge of working in a team, the process of regaining a health- oriented attitude towards life, self esteem and last but not least the experience of fun has seen significant change in players. Over 77% of players change their lives forever. They move forwards to find regular employment, come off drugs and alcohol, pursue education, improve their housing, and even play for semi-professional and professional football clubs. It also changes the attitudes of the public towards homeless people who are treated as heroes during the tournament and acknowledged for their courage and determination whilst encouraged and supported in transforming their lives.

The Homeless World Cup was co-founded by social entrepreneur Mel Young and Harald Schmied created the concept in 2001 at the Annual International Network of Street Papers Conference (INSP) in Cape Town."

And yes, we were moved in a humbled way by the stories of abuse and neglect tripping off the players lips. And full of admiration for the likes of Mel and his team who had worked so tirelessly - truth be told, Mel seemed knackered most of the time - to make it happen and shine a light on Homelessness; its universality, impact and most importantly, needlessness.

Other HWC Facts & Info:

Homeless World Cup Teams participating in Cape Town 2006:
48 countries will participate in the 4th Homeless World Cup:

Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong China, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Liberia, Lithuania, Malawi, Mexico, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Rawanda, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, USA, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

For further player and team stories visit
*2005 Homeless World Cup Success

Research carried out amongst the 217 players involved in the 2005 Homeless World Cup produced some staggering statistics:
• 94% (198 players) have a new motivation for life
• 85% (179 players) have improved social relations
• 77% (164 players) have changed their lives significantly in one or more of the following ways:
• 38% (80 players) have regular employment
• 40% (85 players) have improved their housing situation
• 28% (60 players) have opted to develop their education
• Of the 43% (91 players) addressing a drug or alcohol dependency, 68% (62 players) succeeded
• 12 players from 2005 make their living partly from football as coaches or players with professional and semi-professional teams"


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