Host nation Brazil swept all before them at the Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup this weekend as the men’s and women’s teams both claimed their respective titles.
In one of the most eagerly anticipated finals in the history of the Homeless World Cup – the international tournament beating homelessness through football – Brazil’s mens team triumphed 6-0 over Chile, while the women’s team won 7-3 against Mexico in their final.
Over 300 street soccer matches were played by 55 national teams of homeless players on the world-famous Copacabana Beach throughout the week. Finals Day brought the tournament to a fitting climax with hundreds of spectators gathering to watch Brazil lift the trophies.
Pupo Fernandes, manager of Brazil’s men’s team said that his players deserved their success. “It is amazing to see the smile on their faces,” he said.
“They deserve to win for their dedication. They give all the hearts to it even with limited material resources. These boys show that Brazil is a real power in international football”.
His thoughts were echoed by Aleixander Mathias, manager of the Brazilian women’s team: “This is really great for all the players, it means a lot in their lives. It gives them more motivation and lots of changes for their future.”
Mel Young, president and founder of the Homeless World Cup, congratulated the champions and reflected on the success of the tournament.
“Congratulations Brazil on becoming champions of the Homeless World Cup,” he said. “We have seen some astounding football this year. It is the players and managers of the national teams that have made this a fantastic tournament.
“Thank you. It is your spirit and determination that is changing the world. Your emerging leadership is destroying the stereotype and stigma of homelessness and creating real and lasting change around the world.”
The Homeless World Cup is an international tournament that inspires 64 national grassroots football projects and over 30,000 homeless players a year to change their lives.
Research shows that over 70 percent over players experience a positive life change: they come off drugs and alcohol, move into jobs or education, find homes or re-unite with families.
With the Rio 2010 tournament now over, the baton is handed to France for the Paris 2011 Homeless World Cup from 19 – 29 August 2011.
Dan Pope, Club Website editor
You can listen to Dan’s feature on the success of the Homeless World Cup – including interviews with two British ex-Homeless World Cup players now working in the football industry and tournament founder Mel Young – on YouTube.
For more information on the Homeless World Cup visit www.homelessworldcup.org.