Homeless football Scots are aiming for World Cup glory
Each year, homeless people who were invisible on the streets become heroes on the pitch for their countries.
The Homeless World Cup begins in two days’ time in Cardiff, where Scotland will try to channel the spirit of 78, only this time bringing the trophy home.
Scotland men finished their preparation for the tournament yesterday by having a warm-up session followed by a game against India’s men’s team. Street Soccer Scotland and Slum Soccer India teamed up to organise the event that also saw Scotland and India’s Women’s teams face off.
The Scotland squad is run and selected by Street Soccer for the tournament. Individuals are selected not only on their ability but on their attitude to be willing to perform as part of a team.
All members of the squad have suffered from social exclusion in one way or another during their lives.
David Duke, CEO and founder of Street Soccer Scotland said: “I set up the charity in 2009 after suffering from social isolation and exclusion following the death of my father. Group activities and a support network for those suffering from social exclusion is extremely important. By setting up the organisation we hoped to create a space that is run by those who can relate and mentor our service users.”
The collaboration between India and Scotland was brought about through the work of Andy Hook, 62, from Leith. Mr Hook, who has also been dubbed “Ghandi Hook” by his Indian team, will coach the side at the world cup. Mr Hook said: “I started working for the homeless world cup shortly after Scotland hosted the tournament in Edinburgh. I was appointed as director of football and a year later I was invited to go to India by the Slum Soccer CEO to help develop all sorts of training and development programmes.”
Stuart Cummings, 30, from Edinburgh, who joined Street Soccer Scotland last year, said: “It is just the best feeling putting on the shirt and representing your country. I suffered from a bad brain injury and really became quite isolated from society. After beginning training and being selected for the World Cup squad I have seen my confidence and self belief grow.”
The structure consists of three stages of competition with several different trophies to compete for. There will be 48 squads competing in the Men’s/Mixed competition and 16 in the Women’s competition.
Unfortunately Scotland was unable to field a women’s team this year.
However, the Scotland Women’s team will take part in the Friendship tour in Nagpur, India, this September.