Homelessness and football are often seen in Glasgow but not usually associated, that is until now, as Glasgow prepares to host the men and women’s Homeless World Cup (HWC) 2016.
Running from July 10-16, the tournament will see George Square converted into three pitches with seating for 100,000 spectators.
These seats are bound to fill fast, as the Cup is un-ticketed and free to attend.
HWC spokesperson said: “It couldn’t be easier; fans just turn up, watch some amazing football and hear some inspiring stories.”
Personal development is centre to the HWC, as players from all 64 teams participate in the its National Partner Programme. The Partner Programme involves 73 organisations from across the globe, which help their national players gain necessities such as education, employment, rehab and supported housing.
HWC Foundation President Mel Young said: “We will have 512 players with us, and every single one of them is at some stage of their journey towards a more stable future. Their personal stories are remarkable, often very moving, but they reflect a real hope for social justice.”
Social justice can be seen in the legacy of the HWC, as its spokesperson explained: “Statistics show 80% of Homeless World Cup players re-build their lives.”
He added: “We want that pattern, if not more, to be the case for 2016. We hope Glasgow continues to support its National Partner, Street Soccer Scotland, which helps thousands of men and women out of homelessness and social exclusion.”
Testament to this good work is 30-year-old Scot, Jamie Maclean. Maclean started working with the programme in 2009, but struggled to overcome drug addiction, so missed out on that year’s HWC. However after years of support he got clean, secured a job with the Scottish Association for Mental Health, and joined the HWC 2015 in Amsterdam.
Maclean said: “To be able to come back and have my family watching me on the TV is brilliant. It makes me feel proud.”
He added: “I came through the other side, overcoming addiction and now I’m helping people with similar problems.”
To help people like Jamie Maclean HWC fans can sponsor the tournament, buy a Supporter package or volunteer at the event.
Mel Young concluded: “We need to galvanize our global fan base if we’re really going to make a difference. With 100 million people homeless globally, we’re still just scratching the surface.”