There’s no shortages of free things to do in Melbourne, which is good news if you are out of work! Last week was a perfect example – this year’s Homeless World Cup kicked off last Monday and all games were held smack bang in the heart of the central business district, with free entry to boot.
I managed to get media accreditation for the Homeless World Cup and was surprised at the lack of a British media presence at the games. I got an interview with the games founder Mel Young who gave me an exclusive about the tournament’s future, which appeared in Social Enterprise magazine.
The Homeless World Cup is a tournament where all the players have either been homeless, refugees or asylum seekers. They make up four-a-side teams, with one player having to stay in their own half. This makes for high scoring games. Nigeria put 15 past one unlucky team the other day, while England’s striker got a hat-trick in a minute against Ireland (a match refereed by Kim Milton Nielson who sent David Beckham off in the 1998 World Cup).
Some of the players have really amazing stories – some have experienced genocide, others have kicked drug habits. One guy in the England team was deported from Holland to Somalia before finally settling in Birmingham. I spoke to him after the Holland v England game, and unsurprisingly it was a fixture that meant a lot to him.
On the subject of the home teams, England and Scotland both made knock out rounds of the mens’ event. They met in a quarter final clash won by Scotland, with the Scots going out in the semis to Russia. The final was won by Afghanistan and prompted lots of spontaneous celebrations from local Afghans.