More than 500 men and women from 52 countries around the world competed in this year’s Homeless World Cup, an annual tournament that hopes to support and inspire homeless youth around the world through soccer. The 14th annual cup took place in Glasgow, Scotland, and this year the Mexican women and men’s fútbol teams emerged as champions, claiming the fourth victory for the women’s side, defeating Kyrgyzstan 5-0, and the second for the men, who beat Brazil 6-1 in the finals.
The rules of the game are different than the soccer most of us are used to. On the eight player teams, only four players including the goalie are on the field, and the game lasts a total of 14 minutes, made up of two-seven minute halves. In the tournament, the countries must select new team members every year. Street Soccer is the organization that puts together the Mexican teams, while fellow Mexican Carlos Slim – one of the richest men in the world – finances the tournament and supports the teams.
Not only did the two Mexican teams win consecutively this year, the squads are also repeat winners because they won the Homeless World Cup last year, beating the Ukrainian and Chilean teams.
As the teams in the Homeless World Cup show, it’s important to give vulnerable communities opportunities to shine, and sports are a great avenue to do so. Through fútbol, the homeless have a chance to be winners, a chance that they might not get often.