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Mel Young and Harald Schmied, from Scotland and Austria, respectively, created the Homeless World Cup in 2001 after visiting Cape Town, South Africa for a homelessness conference.

In 2003, Young and Schmied had organized their first Homeless World Cup tournament, which was played in Graz, Austria; to them football (or soccer) is not only a sport, but also a way to “change the lives of homeless people.”

They understand the effects of homelessness, which can make homeless people feel alone and unable to voice their thoughts, causing their lives to be constant chaos.

Football is a release from their usual lifestyle, creates a safe space to build trusting relationships and enables them to be a part of something fun.

By being able to trust others and build skills, the homeless will be able to succeed and learn that they can also apply these lessons to their everyday life and thus change the path they are on.

The ambition of the Cup is to use football as a catalyst to make positive changes in their lives. In order to do so, the organization brings together partners to help give support and teach the homeless soccer skills. During the Cup, homeless people from all around the world will be able to meet and talk to other homeless people from other countries.

This year, the Homeless World Cup will be taking place in Santiago, Chile. The news was made public during a rematch of the 2012 Homeless World Cup Finalists Mexico and Chile.

The Homeless World Cup is partnered up the Futbol Calle, an organization formed by Accion Total, a sports company who specialize in the creation of sports facilities and helping people alter the direction of their lives. Currently, there are 2,000 participants involved in Futbol Calle.

The other partners also contribute to helping the homeless make progress professionally. They provide the access to education, jobs, and if needed, legal advice.

There are also many ways every day people can get involved in helping the Homeless World Cup gain publicity and funds, their website contains a complete packet of fundraising ideas and templates for posters, flyers, and logos. You can find the packets and templates, as well as read several stories from past players on the website and like their Facebook page.

Becka Felcon

Sources: Homeless World Cup, Homeless World Cup, I Love Chile
Photo: Homeless World Cup