On the last day of competition at this year’s Homeless World Cup, local volunteer Alfredo Segura Molina is bursting with pride at having been able to become part of the event in his home city.
“It’s been a fantastic tournament. I see it as a brotherhood between the players where they buy into the concept of winning but winning fairly. Everyone is full of love and affection for each other and no one is above or below anyone else.”
The 46-year-old is easy to spot among the crowds in his massive sombrero that says ‘Viva Mexico’ on the front as he patrols Pitch 3 in his role as ball collector.
Working in the evenings has allowed him to spend his free time at the Zocalo, and such has been his enjoyment of the last six days that Molina is thinking of returning to volunteer at next year’s event.
“I’ve loved my time here. In fact, I’ve thought about going to Wales next year to be a volunteer and work alongside the people who I’ve made friends with from different countries,” he says.
“I’m delighted about the life experience being here has given me. We all feel equal here, and that’s what I have loved most.”
Prior to the tournament, Molina had no idea about the existence of the Homeless World Cup, but decided to become involved following some research into the event and the idea behind it.
“I didn’t know anything about the tournament beforehand. When I saw an open call for volunteers I wondered what it was about and started to investigate. I saw on the internet what the idea of the Homeless World Cup was and I was hooked.
“I said to myself ‘I need to be there’ to see firsthand the experience of the players, and then I watched some short video footage from previous tournaments, which reasserted my desire to be part of it.”
The event is one that Molina thinks can really be used as a motor for change in his native Mexico.
“The Homeless World Cup idea is one that I think can really help the kids on the streets in Mexico, To me, getting involved in their social programmes offers real solutions. It can be the seed planted for young people to become better players and better people.”
And while he has one eye on his home nation, there’s a completely different team that has won his affections.
“I’ve been supporting Mexico, obviously, but it’s Greece Women’s team that have stolen my heart. They haven’t brought a team that has the ability to compete for trophies, but that hasn’t stopped them really enjoying themselves on the pitch.
“Even if a team scores 10 against them, it doesn’t stop them from smiling. I love their attitude,” he says.
Words: Craig Williams
Images: Daniel Lipinski