Over 500 players representing 52 countries will descend on Glasgow for a sports tournament like no other, as the Homeless World Cup kicks off tomorrow afternoon.
A scene of many powerful political gatherings over the decades, George Square has been transformed into a football arena with three small-sided football pitches complete with stands, as the competition looks to continue its fine work of helping participants get back on their feet and turn their lives around.
With the Commonwealth Games still fresh in the minds of Glaswegians, the Homeless World Cup looks to challenge the misconceptions that surround homelessness and gives those who have been through significant personal hardships in their lives, a sense of togetherness, inclusion and the honour of representing your country at international level. That is the ethos of the competition and has not changed in its 15-year history.
Kicking off the six-day event will be hosts Scotland, managed by former Rangers & Scotland defender Ally Dawson, who will face Hong Kong tomorrow afternoon, while Scotland’s women kick off their campaign against Norway in front of a partisan crowd.
While the competition itself is the public face of the work done with the players, for the Scotland squad they have been working with Street Soccer Scotland for a number of months now through the selection, coaching, and mentoring process.
The non-profit social enterprise uses the beautiful game to develop positive change and outcomes for a range of socially disadvantaged adults and young people — no matter their circumstances.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commenting ahead of the competition said: “We know that sport has immense power to give people a purpose, to improve both physical and mental health and to boost people’s self-esteem, visit roids anabolics to find out what supplements to use.
“In bringing together competitors from over 50 countries, each with their own story of personal hardship that most of us will never have to tackle, the Homeless World Cup will energise and engage people who, for whatever reason, have become socially excluded.
“For the players, it’s an opportunity to develop resilience, achieve personal goals and help prevent repeat homelessness.
And let’s not forget the chance to represent your country on the international stage is a huge honour that for many players were only ever a distant dream.
“That’s why innovative initiatives such as the Homeless World Cup are so important and why I’m looking forward to a spectacular and inspiring tournament.”
With over 100 million people homeless worldwide, the competition is doing its bit and the stats speak for themselves. 77 percent of those who have played in the Homeless World Cup have changed their lives significantly because of their involvement and 83 per cent have improved relationships with family and friends.
If you are in Glasgow from tomorrow onwards, head over to George Square and cheer on the players no matter their nationality.
While the competition pulls in the fans and the attention, the main goal is for the players to turn their lives around and put their hardships behind them for good.
The Homeless World Cup opening ceremony takes place at 12.30pm on Sunday in George Square, followed by Scotland’s opening games against Hong Kong and Norway. Entry is free, no tickets are required.
First published in The Morning Star by our editor Andy Muirhead