Monday, October 20, 2008

5 More Questions With The Homeless World Cup

Kat Byles, Media and Communications Director for the Homeless World Cup has been a quest before. Since the event is nearly here, I thought it was a good time to catch up with what is going on with the event.

1. As the time draws near for the Homeless World Cup in December, what sort of final preparations are going on? Are there any shortcomings that you are facing? Has support been what you have expected or better?

With only about 6 weeks to go we are now in to all the detailed implementation of the Event. Currently the only shortcoming is the sheer magnitude of the actions that need to take place for an Event to go off beautifully. Support in Melbourne is fabulous. It claims a spot in the top 5 most abundant cities in the world and again for Events Cities in the world, plus Australia is sport mad. So the national and local community is right behind the Event. The Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup legacy is 30 street soccer programmes rolled out across the country by our partner there The Big Issue. This will involve 1500 people who are homeless every year and $3million funding has come from the government to achieve this.

However, we are currently seeking support for a number of the National Teams from Africa to attend. Anyone wanting to help can make a donation here.

2. How many teams are participating this year? How does this compare to previous years? Have there been many new entries?

48 nations attended the Copenhagen 2007 Homeless World Cup. 56 nations will be united this year for the largest Homeless World Cup ever. This includes 8 women's national teams for the first Women's Cup ever too. Yes, lots of new entries that includes Belgium, Columbia, Cambodia, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Philippines, Romania, Sierra Leone, and Timor Leste.

3. What are some of the challenges in pulling of this sort of event? How overwhelming are the logistics to manage such a major, worldwide event?

The logistics are not a problem. We have a great team in place in Melbourne with a lot of experience of putting on international events.

There is the challenge of moving 500 people who are homeless, some often without (legal) identities, across borders to one place for the tournament. Often some great work is done with the players before hand to secure a passport and national papers which then means that they have all the important documents needed to secure employment.

There is the challenge of securing enlightened partners corporate, organizations, individuals, to support the event financially and with their core competencies to make the Event happen. Internationally we work with UEFA, Nike, and Vodafone Foundation has recently come on board. We need to see another 4-5 partners take their innovative lead.

4. Are there any teams that already seem to be the favorites or the ones to watch? Are there particular athletes that we will be hearing more about? How many of these participants do you expect to transition into permanent sport/soccer related careers/lifestyles?

Every year it is a new team so we never know which ones will shine from one year to the next. Scotland, last year's champions, will want to make their presence known early on. Poland have finished the top 4 in four Homeless World Cup's but the championship has just been out of their grasp so they will want to change that I am sure. All the new nations participating may surprise us too! Currently over 70 per cent of participants participating will experience a significant life change, such as coming off drugs and alcohol, moving in to jobs, homes, education, training, reuniting with families. You may see around 20 per cent move in to coaching positions or take up with a soccer team. For example, David Duke, Manager Team Scotland led the team to victory last year, he was homeless himself and played at the Gothenburg 2004 Homeless World Cup. Michelle from Team Brazil last year now plays for the national U21's women's side and nearly 80 per cent of players stay playing soccer afterwards, isn't that great.

5. What can those of us around the world still do to make a difference in the lives of those participating? How can we keep up on the latest happenings and watch the event.

Share the story with your friends

Support your national team

Make a donation to the Women’s Cup here

Join us throughout the event here


Lindsay said...

It's fascinating how big this event has gotten, along with all the support. The first time I heard about it was on your blog awhile back.

Sports really can bring people together. That's awesome that soccer leads so many people to a better life, just from everything that goes along with playing and being involved with a team.

Apryl DeLancey said...

I know! I am excited that there are so many lives being improved by this!