Ukraine were crowned Homeless World Cup champions last night after a thrilling finish to the Milan 2009 tournament.
A 5-4 victory over Portugal in a nailbiting final was enough to clinch the title and crown Ukraine as the seventh winners of the tournament that gives people who are homeless the opportunity to change their own lives.
48 nations and 500 players from all five continents of the world were united in the Arena Civica, Milan for this year’s tournament and a thrilling final proved a fitting conclusion to the week-long football festival that proves that a ball can change the world.
On closing the competition, Homeless World Cup President Mel Young said: "Congratulations to the players. Your spirit of fair play, courage and determination is a true example to the human race. This is what the United Nations can look like. People standing together creating change. A ball can change the world."
Ukraine take over the crown from last year’s winners Afghanistan and join the list of past winners that includes this year’s hosts Italy (2004, 2005) along with Austria (2003), Russia (2006) and Scotland (2007).
Milan officials handed over to Brazil for the Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup in a high energy display of samba and colour with the Brazilians promising to deliver the best tournament ever next year.
Over three quarters of players involved in the Homeless World Cup experience a significant life change; no-longer using drugs and alcohol, moving into homes, jobs, education, training, repairing relationships and becoming coaches or players with semi-pro teams. 94% claim to have a renewed motivation for life.
England and Scotland finished in second and third respectively in this year's Dignitary Cup, the second tier tournament just below the Homeless World Cup Trophy, while Wales won the Community Cup with a thrilling 9-7 win over Sweden in the final.
Lee, coach of the Welsh team said: "They performed outstandingly. They have worked so hard and I am so proud of them. They are like my children. I'm proud to be from Wales and I'm proud to wear this jersey."
A ball can change the world
Club Website is a proud to partner the Homeless World Cup, which has been helping homeless people across the globe turn their lives around since its launch in 2003.
Some 40,000 homeless players are currently engaged in grassroots football programs in over 70 nations around the world.
Research shows that 77 percent of players at the Homeless World Cup experience a significant life change.
They come off drugs and alcohol, move into homes, jobs, education, training and repair relationships. Some even go on to become coaches and players with semi-pro teams and social entrepreneurs.
Show your support
If you wish to lend your support to the Homeless World Cup, you can get involved in three easy ways:
To find out more, visit www.homelessworldcup.org.