What is the Homeless Football World Cup?
The Homeless World Cup Foundation is a unique, pioneering charity which uses football to inspire people who are homeless to change their own lives.
Every year, the Homeless World Cup Foundation delivers an inspirational week-long street football tournament that brings together more than 500 players representing 50+ countries around the world, all of which have faced homelessness and social marginalisation.
The Mission is to use football to support and inspire people who are homeless to change their own lives; and to change perceptions and attitudes towards people who are experiencing homelessness.
This year will be the 16th edition of the Homeless World Cup which will take place in Mexico City’s iconic Zocalo, right at the heart of the Mexican capital, from November 13-18.
The tournament attracts more than 80,000 visitors each year with millions more following the action online.
Why does it exist? What purpose does it serve?
Homelessness can force people into isolation, which affects their ability to share, communicate, and work with others.
When a person who is homeless gets involved in football, they build relationships; they become teammates who learn 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 that they are part of something larger than themselves.
The sense of empowerment that comes from participating in street football helps people who are homeless see that they can change their lives.
The Homeless World Cup exists to help end homelessness in all its forms. Their Vision is for a world where everyone who wants a home has a home - a basic human right.
'More than football'
By Ed Kirwan
People react differently to hearing of the Homeless Football World Cup, they are either sceptical - "so they just put people back on the street afterwards?" or they think it's "a cool idea."
There is little lasting effect to the person that see's its coverage on main stream media. Their perception of those experiencing homelessness is ultimately, still unchanged.
I am making a 20 minute short documentary (brief outline below) that will follow a specific team throughout the tournament with an intended focus on one or two individual players (one woman and one man). It will capture the emotions of being homeless, the importance of community and football as a social structure and how the tournament has changed their life. I am really aiming to get the personality of the protagonists across, making the audience empathise on a deeper level than they would otherwise do in a regular report-style documentary.
After the tournament, the documentary will be shown at screenings and during talks that I carry out with corporates. As well as raising awareness, I hope perceptions will be changed towards people on the street as well as raising money through a text to give service at screenings and talks for the Homeless World Cup Foundation.
Gain an understanding of the players attending, build up trust and communication with the team and in particular a couple of individuals who give their consent to be filmed over the course of the World cup.
The focus on particular individuals is important - it will allow the audience to become empathetic rather than sympathetic to the experiences these people have endured.
Follow the players through the emotions of the journey they take. This project is not so much about the football but how much they are impacted by it. Being there to capture how they feel when the mainstream media is away from them. Showing the camaraderie and the importance of belonging; that it can really, truly change someone's life.
Continue filming a few times after the tournament. Following up with the effect it has had on their personality, life and housing situation.
The whole story is to encompass the 'person' and focus on challenging the perceptions people have of homelessness and those currently still on the street.
The importance of the project
In the UK alone, 300,000 people are estimated to be homeless. Over 7000 people on any given night now sleep rough. A number which has grown by 169% since 2010. Globally, it's estimated that there are 100 million people who are homeless and 1.6 billion that lack adequate housing.
It's a growing issue but unfortunately due to the abundance of people we see sleeping rough, compassion fatigue has set in.
People have no idea how to help because they feel disconnected from the people experiencing homelessness issues. It's actually very simple, acknowledge. The simple act of smiling, saying hello and having a chat makes people feel part of society (exactly what the Homeless World Cup does).
Social media projects, documentaries and hearing someone speak can all change public perceptions, which in turn can change behaviours for the greater good. This project aims to unveil the person behind the stigma through social media, a documentary and a series of talks. It is also to show the power of sport and how it can be used to great effect.
'Motivation of the Invisible'
My current work started as a three month social media project supported by O2's Go Think Big.
It's grown to become a documentary, a community and a platform to tell the remarkable stories of those with no voice from London, Oxford, Bath, Bristol, Manchester and Liverpool.
The message is simple; everyone can help by simply acknowledging.
You don't have to give money or food to every person you see, but you can and should always acknowledge. The very act of doing so can remind someone that they have worth, they are seen and that people care about them. Ultimately, it can save lives. I hope to continue this awareness through covering the Homeless World Cup with a new perspective.
Please visit my website to see more.
Or watch the trailer by clicking here.
Note: You cannot access this webpage from my main website and if you close it please use the link sent to you to reopen it.
Follow the project:
I am first and foremost an educator. Graduating from the University of Bath in 2014 with a BSc Biochemistry degree, I entered the world of teaching through the Teach First programme.
My experiences in the profession changed my perception of society and how challenging life is for the majority of people; wealth often deciding education, health and success. I finally realised the privilege that I had growing up and still have to this day.
I also found my passion; making students into better people, people who would benefit and look after their local communities. I continually sought to highlight the responsibility they had to speak well of others, that their words have an effect on people to magnitudes they may not understand. I knew that empowering them was vital, ensuring that they know the power of the individual, that they can make a difference, they have worth to their society.
It is changing people's perceptions and influencing minds to be more empathetic but crucially, acting upon that and changing behavioural patterns that has become my passion. This is done through videography, social media and public speaking engagements.
See what the tournament had to offer in 2016
The power of sport...
Sport has the power to change the World.
It has the power to inspire,
it has the power to unite people
in a way that little else does.
It speaks to youth in a language they understand.
Sport can create hope,
where once there was only despair.
It is more powerful than governments
in breaking down racial barriers.
It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.
... can change lives.