SWOLing For Good: The Homeless World Cup


We call it the world’s game. We call it the beautiful game. We wear our teams’ and countries’ colors with exuberant pride. We roar loudly at every goal and exhale with relief at every clean sheet.

Soccer is a game built on deft skills and artfully executed teamwork; fueled by deep rooted passion and commitment. But, there is another side to the game we love, where those same skills, teamwork, passion and commitment are channeled towards a greater good as well as a common goal.

Around the world, soccer has become an amazing tool for creating meaningful social change. From major European and US cities to remote parts of Africa and Central America, there are dozens of nonprofit programs, clubs and NGOs which step onto the pitch to address some of the planet’s biggest challenges. These issues include poverty, homelessness, disease prevention, literacy, environmental awareness, racial equality, disabilities and a myriad of other critical issues.

At Soccer Without Limits (SWOL), we want to shine a light on those who channel their love for the game into their work in the community. Every touch, every pass, every tackle takes on greater meaning when the goal is a win for more than the shirt on your back.

We encourage you to take a moment and learn more about these amazing organizations and how you can channel your own passion and commitment to soccer into making a difference in the world.

And that is truly a beautiful game.

Program Name: Homeless World Cup
Location (City/State): Headquarters are based in Edinburgh, Scotland but we work with a network of 70 countries/partners
Website: www.homelessworldcup.org
Contact: [email protected]

The Homeless World Cup uses the power of football to energise homeless people so they can change their own lives.

It supports grass-roots football programmes and social enterprise development via a network of 70 national partners and celebrates its work by organising an annual football tournament that unites teams of homeless people from countries all around the globe.

The main role of the organisation is to coordinate the work of its 70 national partners by providing support and guidance in football and management skills and to help grow and develop sustainable programmes which have a positive impact on the lives of homeless and excluded people all around the world.

How did the Homeless World Cup get started?

The Homeless World Cup was founded by Mel Young from Scotland and Harald Schmied from Austria, who came up with the idea at a conference on homelessness in Cape Town in 2001. They both believed that it was possible to “change the lives of homeless people through football” and two years later in 2003, the first Homeless World Cup tournament took place in Graz, Austria.

What has been the biggest challenge in running the Homeless World Cup?
In preparation of our annual tournament, getting visas for each player is often a challenge: most of them do not have a passport, a registered address or a bank account. Some don’t even have full names. However with the help of the local government, we have always succeeded in getting every team the visas they needed.

All year long, communicating with all projects in all the countries can be difficult. Everyone is working in a different time zone. Every project is different and requires different support.
Finally, funding is always a challenge: Sport for development can be a difficult idea to grasp. We do not provide emergency aid: water, food or shelter, but we provide an opportunity for people to change their lives, empower themselves, and become the people they have always wanted to be.

What are some of the life skills that playing soccer teaches us?

Homelessness can force people into isolation, which affects their ability to share, communicate their thoughts, and work with others. Day-to-day survival needs take priority over longer term planning - often resulting in a chaotic lifestyle. When a homeless person gets involved in football they communicate and build relationships with others; they become teammates, learning to trust and share. They have a responsibility to attend training sessions and games, to be on time and to be prepared to participate. They feel part of something.

How can soccer fans get involved to support the Homeless World Cup?

First, people can donate to the Homeless World Cup Foundation using this link: http://www.homelessworldcup.org/donate

Every donation counts and will make a difference in the work we do with all our partners around the world.

They can also follow our news and updates on Facebook and Twitter:
and talk about it with their friends, families and other supporters. The more people are engaged, the better.

Only together will we be able to change things.

For more information on the Homeless World Cup and more other positive initiatives you can be a part of, please visit SportsandSocialChange.org

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