The Homeless World Cup is over for another year but the seeds it sows and the lives it changes will last long in the hearts and minds of those who experience the event. This year, after visiting the Homeless World Cup in Poznan, Poland in 2013 and having a brief stint as press during finals weekend in Amsterdam last year, I was able to attend the tournament for the full week and take on a media team role with Street Soccer Scotland.
It may have only taken me a short train ride to Glasgow to get there but I was excited to see what the week would hold and to meet those I’d be working with for the week. Not only was everybody on the team a pleasure to work with, I have made some great friendships which I hope will extend far beyond George Square and Glasgow 2016.
It is the players who are the stars of the tournament though and the opening ceremony was a wonderful chance for all involved to celebrate getting to this moment as all have faced terrible adversity in their lives. It is an inspiring thing to watch people who, at different points in their lives never thought playing for their country could be a possibility, grow and develop over the course of the week, and, having watched every match, seen every press call and spent time with them off the pitch I have a special place in my heart for Team Scotland. Being told your work is making an experience special for people who have been through so much and that the bad times are made better by reading the pieces we published is humbling and made the week even more worthwhile and rewarding.
There were so many special moments witnessed throughout the week that it is almost impossible to put into words. From Team Cambodia handing out tops to the entire Scotland squad to thank them for their hospitality having barely been able to fund their own trip to Glasgow, to the enigmatic Greek goalkeeper, Stella, becoming a fan favourite for not knowing if she could pick the ball up in her own box, and the Mexican fans, winning comfortably against Scotland, changing their chant to “Let’s go, Scotland” to spur the home nation on to a goal; everywhere you look at the Homeless World Cup there are beautiful moments which make you believe in the power of humanity despite the horrors going on in our world.
And for me, most powerfully, I take away a desire to appreciate what I have, take nothing for granted and, even on the bad days, to remember the amazing people and stories from the Homeless World Cup 2016.
See you in Oslo!