The Homeless World Cup tournament delivers an inspirational week-long street football event that brings together more than 500 players representing countries across the globe.
Players taking part in the tournament participate in purpose-built venues in the heart of each city, playing on professional-grade synthetic turf pitches thanks to the team from Act Global.
The Texas company has donated its pitches for the fourth consecutive year at this year’s Homeless World Cup in Mexico City. CEO John Baize tells us about how Act Global got involved and how important it is for his business to be a part of the yearly celebration.
“The Homeless World Cup is amazing. We’ve added a fourth pitch this year, which is fantastic, and we are going to continue on for at least two more years with the foundation—hopefully longer,” he says.
Having watched over 20 hours of football since arriving in Mexico with his son Jack, Baize has been able to witness first hand the spirit of inclusion and camaraderie on display at the tournament.
“I wish everyone that we know could come to these events because you could really sense the global community. I walked by the players-only tent and saw them play ping pong and table football and saw the fellowship and dancing and hugging.
“You really get the sense that, although these people may have experienced homelessness, that they are brothers and sisters,” Baize says.
In what Baize described as “an easy decision” for Act Global, they became involved with the Homeless World Cup after donating a pitch to a street soccer tournament in Detroit, which was followed up by discussions with the organisation.
Another important factor was to really get an understanding of the work the Homeless World Cup Foundation does in its drive to eliminate homelessness across the globe.
“I tell you the big reason for our involvement is that we wanted to know how does the Homeless World Cup help people who are homeless. And it’s been just a huge eye-opener for me.
“I never knew that donating one pitch would lead to working with an organisation that helps over a 100,000 people each year, and that’s just unbelievable for me,” Baize says.
And he has a message for any businesses—big or small—that may wish to replicate Act Global’s stance as a socially responsible business with a passion for global outreach.
“Just put your heart into it first. There’s such a great need around the world to support homelessness. Whether you’re a small company or an individual, just help your local country.
“The Homeless World Cup has partners in 73 different countries, and just get involved in one of them. And, by all means, if you or your family can go to next year’s event in Cardiff you can really see why this is such a special organisation.”
Of course, one day John hopes he might see players from across the globe taking to an Act Global pitch in his home country of the USA.
“That would be a dream of mine and, actually, I feel called to find what companies could work with us to find a city that would host this because homelessness is a global issue. I don’t care what country you are in, it affects all of us. We have a responsibility to do something about it,” he says.
“And when you look at the United States, we have so many resources to make an impact that I’d absolutely love it. It would create another generation of fans and fans watching a sport that impacts people experiencing homelessness round the world, so it would be absolutely great.”
Words: Craig Williams
Images: Daniel Lipinski and Anita Milas