This week over five hundred players from almost fifty countries arrived in Wales to represent their countries in a festival of football created to harness the power of sport in transforming the lives of people experiencing homelessness and social exclusion.
The week-long event in Cardiff’s Bute Park was attended by tens of thousands of spectators, who enjoyed the hundreds of matches, lively discussions and debates and live music, the majority of which was conducted in glorious Welsh sunshine.
The 44 men’s teams fought for their positions in six trophy competitions with rankings from tier six to tier one based on where the teams finished in the qualifying stages; the Beddgelert Cup, the Llewelyn Cup, the Dragon Cup, the Glyndwr Cup, the Cardiff Cup and the Homeless World Cup. Of the 16 women’s teams they were split into two Cup competitions; the Celtic Cup and the Homeless World Cup.
Both of Mexico’s Men’s and Women’s teams would be crowned the Champions of the 2019 Homeless World Cup.
The men’s Homeless World Cup Final would see Mexico take on Chile. Chile started strong and showed a lot of desire as they took the lead within three minutes, stunning the reigning champions. However, Mexico battled hard to end the first half level at 1-1. Chile continued to try and match their opponents, but Mexico’s quality soon shone through, taking the lead within two minutes of the second half before going on to put three more past Chile to win 5-1.
- Men’s Homeless World Cup (1-8) Mexico
- Men’s Cardiff Cup (9-16) – Poland
- Men’s Glyndwr Cup (17-24) – Ireland
- Men’s Dragon Cup (25-32) – India
- Men’s Llewelyn Cup (33-40) – Croatia
- Men’s Llewelyn Cup (33-40) – Croatia
- Men’s Beddgelert (41-44) – Finland
Host team Wales, finished 8th in the Cardiff Cup – 16th in the overall competition
The Women’s World Cup Final Mexico faced Peru. Despite Peru showing some excellent football throughout the tournament, Mexico showed their class, leading 3-0 at halftime and then taking 6-0 win by full-time to be crowned the winner of the 2019 Homeless World Cup.
- Women’s Homeless World Cup (1-8)- Mexico
- Women’s Celtic Cup (9-16)– USA
Host team Wales finished 3rd in the Celtic Cup – 11th in the overall competition.
Final standings are:
7 South Africa
11 Costa Rica
27 Ivory Coast
29 Northern Ireland
32 South Korea
37 Czech Republic
38 Hong Kong
15 Northern Ireland
For the full results from DAY EIGHT visit the Homeless World Cup website:
Daily live streams are also available on HWC YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the HWC website.
OFF THE PITCH
The Bevan Tent
It was a packed schedule in the Bevan Tent with five events taking place over the course of the afternoon. The day kicked off with ‘Unlocking the stories that can tackle the injustice of poverty and homelessness’, with Kerry Hudson, author of Low Born and Mahsuda Snaith, author of How to Find a Home, with the event chaired by Abigail Scott from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
This was followed by ‘From prison to pavement: homelessness and criminal justice’, with Leanne Wood AM, Shadow Minister for Housing and former probation officer; Bonnie Navarra, Former Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner and Lindsay Cordery-Bruce; CEO, The Wallich. The event was chaired by BBC Wales Political Editor Felicity Evans, as the group discussed the fact that stable accommodation is a critical factor in reducing re-offending, yet a quarter of prisoners serving short sentences in England and Wales are released into homelessness. So why aren’t we doing more to break this cycle?
At 2pm ‘Speaking up for social justice’, with poets Mike Jenkins, Evrah Rose and Hanan Issa, took to the stage to perform poetry with purpose.
Following that Moyra Samuels of Justice4Grenfell led the conversation on stage. Moyra is the founding member of Justice4Grenfell, a community-led campaign to obtain justice for the bereaved families, survivors, residents, and the wider community of Grenfell. Moyra shared her experience of campaigning for change and justice and her thoughts on the transformational power of social justice for housing and communities.
At 4pm ‘Community Action on homelessness’ with Carol Wardman, Church in Wales and Joe Batty, Grenfell Voluntary Sector Service, reviewed the vital activities of volunteers, community organisations, church groups and night shelters in supporting people in homelessness and housing crisis is a key part of tackling homelessness.
Welsh band SYBS lit up the music stage to usher in the evening’s entertainment. The post-punk indie band from Cardiff were the winners of the National Eisteddfod, Battle of the Bands 2018 competition and have been gigging non-stop ever since.
Then it was the turn of Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. Following rave reviews for their Glastonbury show, the retro rock four-piece performed the official Homeless World Cup Cardiff 2019 song, ‘Daffodil Hill’, to a jubilant crowd.
Speaking about their involvement guitarist and frontman Tom Rees said: “Being asked to be involved in the Homeless World Cup was a tremendous honour, as well as a real opportunity to contribute to what the tournament stands for in helping people affected by homelessness.
“The invitation to be involved has a particular significance, especially with Cardiff facing the crisis that it currently is with homelessness. I’m delighted to be a part of an effort to inspire solutions, positivity and support to those who need it most.
“With this in mind we wanted to create a song that encapsulated those feelings of positivity, while also conveying a sense of Welsh nationality. So, through channeling a bit of divine power from personal heroes Wizzard, along with some guidance from our famed national flower, we arrive at Daffodil Hill. It’s a proper bop.”
Some stories from the Homeless World Cup – Day 8
“Football always surprises me”
Ruth Boyle is a Derry Girl.
In between the riots that blighted Northern Ireland during the troubles, she was always found with a ball at her feet.
Now, 12 months on from her experience as a player, she’s back helping coach the Northern Ireland women’s team.
She said: “A tournament like this teaches you so much more than just football skills. The girls have taken a few real knocks with results, so they’ve been learning about resilience in bucketloads. This group of girls aren’t natural footballers, so to get a win yesterday was worth it all. They came here scared and nervous.
Small goals, little steps strike home
In 1979, Greek football turned professional. Twenty years later its superclub, Panathinaikos, was not only building on its reputation for success in European competition but moving back into its Athens home, refurbished to the tune of €7m.
Also in 1999, a highly promising local player was lighting up the Panathinaikos youth team.
Ioannis Tourlidas was addicted to football—it was his life.
He was also becoming addicted to drugs—that became his life.
“When I have a ball in front of me I forget about everything”
The largest football club in Europe in terms of number of active teams of all ages, Stockholm based side IF Brommapojkarna is famous for its youth academy and for having produced numerous top-quality Swedish players throughout the years.
And not too long ago, they counted Matias Nicolas Daniel Arriola among their ranks. Arriola is here in Cardiff turning out for Sweden at this year’s Homeless World Cup.
“I know I can say, with my hand on my heart, that I deserve this”
It’s entirely possible that of the 500-plus players here in Cardiff taking part in the Homeless World Cup, Team Norway’s Charlotte Fosser is one of the few who can call herself a grandmother.
A mother of five children aged between 10 and 23, the 42-year-old works as a motivational speaker and fronts a rock band in her home city of Stavanger in southwestern Norway.
Having experienced a life to date that has been marked by addiction, abuse, an abortion, five suicide attempts, and an attempt on her life by others, through football Fosser has been able to chart a new path in life.
The girl with the dragon tattoo
The Welsh dragon is a near ubiquitous sight around the Homeless World Cup in Cardiff. It’s on t-shirts, on billboards, it’s painted on kids faces, and it’s on the flag that flies high from Cardiff Castle nearby, peeking through the trees of Bute Park.
It’s now also on the thigh of Team Sweden player Marie Kopka in the form of massive tattoo to help the 26-year-old remember her time at the tournament.
Approaching her final match with the Swedish women’s team, Kopka, from Gothenburg, tried to sum up her emotions.
“I’m feeling quite nice. It’s been a hell of a trip. Meeting people from a lot of different countries and stuff like that and it’s been wonderful. The weather has been amazing. It’s only rained on one day, but that was quite nice too. I got the nicest tan.
“It felt like everyone came from the same country that day”
“Football has been part of my life since forever. I grew up in a part of the city where we played football every day. We didn’t have the means to play video games and things like that, so only football was possible. I would play, go home to eat, and then I would get out again and play. It means I could avoid the problems that were happening at school and home,” says French street soccer player Diaa Edine Abou Serie Mohamed.
“In school I was always problematic. I always had issues staying in schools. I got excluded from a few of them, which meant I was at home all the time, which increased tensions. I am the only boy in my family, my mum is a single mum, and I have seven sisters.
“Me getting expelled from school created this tension between myself and my mum. I felt both pressure and boredom and started doing things, illegal stuff. I didn’t have another place to go to during the day so I just took my stuff and left and ended up in a homeless shelter in the city of Clermont-Ferrand.”
“I’m not saying I deserve it, but I’m ready for it”
Without the referee—without the person in the middle of the pitch with the whistle in hand—we wouldn’t have any football. And we wouldn’t have a Homeless World Cup.
Sometimes we forget that. That the referees are as important as the players themselves. And that they love the game as much as we do. They might even have been or are the players themselves.
That’s the case with Adil Leite, the referee chosen to officiate the 2019 Homeless World Cup men’s final in Cardiff between Chile and Mexico.
He described his feelings as he prepared to take to the field with the teams.
“I’m very happy and I’m excited. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to describe this because I was a player in Poznan [in 2013]. Now I am refereeing the final. I didn’t dream of this. It’s a big dream to dream. But now it’s here and it’s incredible. It’s great,” he said.
“Football was the turning point”
Mexico City, Poznań, Santiago, Amsterdam, Glasgow, Oslo, and now Cardiff: street soccer goalkeeper come coach Marius Pazemechas from Lithuania is fast becoming a Homeless World Cup veteran. Standing before me with his big-hearted smile he shares a bit more about his pre-Homeless World Cup experience.
“I hadn’t been sober for 15 years. It started like it does for many people. I drank when I was at school. At first maybe just a little, every year more, more, more. When I was in my 30s, I tried to stop—therapy, AA meetings, Minnesota programme.”
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has helped millions of people suffering from alcohol addiction to create better lives for themselves without alcohol. It isn’t run by clinics, doctors, or psychologists—it’s run by and for people with alcohol addiction, with meetings taking place in nations all across the world. The Minnesota model is an individualised treatment method based on a person’s addiction concerns. The family of the individual is asked to actively participate in the treatment, and psychiatrists play an important role throughout the rehabilitation process.