I read an article in the San Francisco Examiner this morning just in time for Feel Good Friday. It's about a local filmmaker documenting a soccer league for the homeless. You can read the original article here.
The film, "GOAL! The Incredible Journey follows the trip of five women who were selected to represent the United States at the 2013 Homeless World Cup. Through their story we explore how soccer can help people take control of their lives." You can read more about the film, watch a clip and can contribute to the project on their Kickstarter page.
Yes, yes, but what is the Homeless World Cup? As defined on their website, "The Homeless World Cup is a network of 70 international partner organisations that use football to improve the lives of homeless people throughout the world." After seeing the spelling of organizations and calling soccer football, you will not be surprised to learn the group was founded by Mel Young from Scotland and Harald Schmied from Austria "who came up with the idea at a conference on homelessness, in Cape Town in 2001."
And why organized sports? Again from the website, "When a homeless person get involved in football they communicate and build relationships with others; they become teammates, learning to trust and share; they have a responsibility to attend training sessions and games, to be on time and prepared to participate. They feel part of something. These skills and attributes are all transferable to daily life and therefore help homeless people see that they can change their lives."
There is an organization with similar goals in the US called Street Soccer USA. With teams in 18 cities they have a 75% success rate of helping participants reach their goals. It is from these leagues, including a local San Francisco team, that players are chosen to represent the US the World Cup.
Intrigued? You've still got time to buy a plane ticket. "The 12th annual Homeless World Cup tournament will be held in Santiago, Chile from 19th to 26th October 2014. 64 nations and over 500 players will travel to South America to show the world how a ball has helped change their lives. This will include players representing reigning champions Brazil (men's) and Mexico (women's). The 8 day tournament will be held in Plaza de Armas in central Santiago and over 100,000 spectators are expected to watch the action unfold."
Can't take a trip to Chile this year? You can always follow the action on the Homeless World Cup Facebook page and the Street Soccer Bay Area Facebook page.