The Salvation Army and Homeless World Cup: a natural fit

When the Salvation Army Commissioner for Norway was asked if he wanted to support Oslo’s bid for the Homeless World Cup, William Cochrane immediately said yes.

The native Scotsman is just over a year into his post as Commissioner and believes the Salvation Army’s ethos make them the perfect organisation to head up the Local Organising Committee (LOC).

As the 62-year-old takes a seat overlooking the Oslofjord, he explains: “We formally signed up for the tournament a little over a year ago, and it was one of the first things I did in the job. They told me they were in negotiations about hosting it and asked if I supported it, which of course I did!

“I was here for the signing of the contract and we then set the wheels in motion and put a team in place to work closely with the foundation, so it’s been a very busy year for all involved.

“It seems to me the Salvation Army and Homeless World Cup are a natural fit. For 30 years, the Salvation Army has been involved in gatefootball (street football) here in Norway, and it’s just great how the whole tournament has managed to come together.

“We have such a great network of links with people who are homeless, people who have recently been homeless and who are now re-establishing their lives and taking their place in society again. All the work we do is geared for that.

“I was so thrilled on Monday night when we all came together and had that great party in the City Hall. With a thousand people gathering in this iconic building where they present the Nobel Peace Prize, it was so heartening to see everyone here given the dignity and chance to be important.

“I was privileged to stand with the Princess and Mel Young at the opening ceremony, and the thing that really touched my heart was seeing this river of people who were energised, excited and positive all marching towards us and towards a better life.

“I hope the whole tournament has been a tremendous encouragement to people who are trying to build their lives and to feel that they can still take their place. People do need a hand up and a bit of support to do that, though, and that’s part of the great opportunity this tournament presents.

Our work at the Salvation Army is about transformation and empowerment, and I think that’s identical to what the Homeless World Cup is trying to do as well.”

Words: David Brockett
Images: Romain Kedochim