The Homeless World Cup kicked off last Saturday in Amsterdam and Ireland proudly took their place among the 48 participating nations, including defending champions Chile.
Since beginning in 2003 in Graz, Austria, with just 18 countries, the Homeless World Cup has grown into a massive football competition. Mel Young, who is the President and co founder of the Homeless World Cup, says the message of the tournament is simple; get kids off the street and get them playing football.
“The ultimate aim of the Homeless World Cup is not to exist, because we shouldn’t have to have a Homeless World Cup in the first place. There shouldn’t be any homelessness,” says Young. “Anywhere where there is homelessness in the world and football can make a difference, we will go to with a ball.”
Having overcome a difficult start to their campaign which saw them lose their opening two matches, 6-1 against Ukraine and then 10-6 against a very strong Portugal team, Ireland recovered to win their next three games to qualify for the second stage of the tournament.
The three wins came in comprehensive victories over Grenada 5-3 Denmark 8-2 and Switzerland 13-1.
Coached by ex pro Tommy Morgan, the Irish lads did what was asked of them producing some excellent performances allied with attacking football that is a feature of this team. They also had a very famous fan cheering them on in their opening match when Colin Farrell joined them on the field for the national anthem and was pitch side cheering them throughout the game.
After the game Farrell said: “This event brings a great sense of inclusion. It is an extraordinary thing to be around. It was a tough game, but you move on. We still have four more games to go.”
I caught up with Street League founder and member of the Ireland team Sean Kavanagh this afternoon to find out how things are shaping up in Round Two.
“We’ve played two games in this round, we won 5-1 v Norway and lost 7-5 to South Africa. The tournament is going very well so far, Thomas has done a brilliant job managing and preparing the team and we’re hoping to put in good performances in our next two games, one of which is against Brazil. We’ve been a little shy in front of goal so hopefully we can put that right!”
“It was great to have Colin’s support, as an actor and former footballer he appreciates the value, confidence and sense of self that can be had from being part of a team and expressing yourself in a sporting endeavour.”
You can watch The Homeless World Cup on this stream kindly provided by UK football mag Fourfourtwo http://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/watch-homeless-world-cup-fourfourtwo