Football is a universal game, played and loved by many, although equally many people have little or no interest it. But even these people recognise famous teams like Manchester United or Barcelona and players like Pele or Ronaldo. Media coverage often focuses on the money side and recent corruption in FIFA, however there are many areas where football is benefiting society and becoming more than a game.
One example is the Homeless World Cup. This year’s competition was held in Glasgow and involved 52 countries and over 500 competitors.
The Homeless World Cup was co-founded by Mel Young and Harald Schmied, with the first tournament taking place in Graz in 2003. The idea is to help homeless people feel part of a team and help with their self-esteem, along with benefits of the physical side of participating.
94% of the players taking part said it had a positive benefit on their lives. USA coach Lisa Wrightman said of taking part in this year’s competition, “the women around me saw the transformation I had gone through and the happiness I now have”. It is one of the few football tournaments where success is not measured by wining nations and/or profit, but more on how it can positively benefit the people taking part, either on the playing side or volunteers who help at the games.
Football is more than a game and this quote neatly sums up the ethos of the Homeless World Cup and why football matters:
“The beautiful game, as it is often called, also teaches lessons of having to work hard to improve yourself individually and that sometimes things won’t go your way but you should never give up if you want to achieve in life. That spirit of the game epitomises the Homeless World Cup.”