These Indian kids can create footballing history, but they need your help

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© Slum soccer

These Indian kids can create footballing history, but they need your help

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Abhishek Iyer


No, this is not some alternate universe or a wishful game of FIFA. While most of India’s focus will be on the Euros this summer, the Indian men and women teams will be heading to Glasgow in July to play in the fourteenth edition of the Homeless World Cup with a real chance of going the distance.

There are only a few seconds left on the clock as the Indian goal-keeper throws it forward. The number 12 jinks this way and that, evading opposition players like a moped evading potholes, before planting a strong shot in the top left corner of the goal. The whistle blows, the audience roars, and India lifts the World Cup!

The men sit at rank 31 and the women at a heady rank 5, both being all-time highs. But they need your support to get there! Slum Soccer, the official Indian partner of the Homeless World Cup, has launched a fundraising campaign to help the Indian teams reach the Homeless World Cup.

About the Homeless World Cup

There’s something wonderfully primal, instinctive, and liberating in kicking a ball around. Whatever troubles beset you otherwise, whatever inequities and hardships rear their ugly heads during waking hours, however trampled you are by the relentless stampede of life, you can be forgiven for relegating those thoughts to the back of your mind in those few seconds with the ball. It’s an exercise where there are no institutionalized inequities; you are as good as you are. It’s an activity where team-play is preeminent, forcing you to think beyond lines of gender, income, and social status. Most of all, it’s a means to catharsis, something that helps you better tackle those very hardships and troubles that have hitherto ravaged your confidence and self-belief.

This is the defining emotion behind the Homeless World Cup. Founded by Mel Young and Harald Schmied in 2001, the Homeless World Cup is an annual football tournament that advocates for a global solution to homelessness and helps its participants untie the social albatrosses on their necks. With partners in more than 70 countries, the competition touches the lives of 100,000 homeless people every year through experience sharing and an infusion of respect and importance that their lives have lacked so far.

India is a country with massive problems of homelessness, and has been a partner of the Homeless World Cup since 2007. Both men and women teams have consistently participated in the competition over the years; their stocks have risen inexorably and so has their general popularity among other teams.

This video encapsulates the sentiment behind the Homeless World Cup and the Indian teams’ rising popularity:

SportsCafe is proud to be a partner in the Indian teams’ fund-raising effort for this year. We completely agree with Mel Young’s assessment that small changes from all of us have the potential to swirl into a groundswell of lasting change. We urge all of our readers to contribute to this effort and further the cause of a sport in India that needs all the help it can get.

We will be bringing you a series of features on the Homeless World Cup leading up to the tournament, and chronicle the performance of the Indian teams during the competition. Let us all strive to help the contingent of strong souls that will travel to Glasgow soon and represent the national flag. Let us watch them turn into confident members of society and a source of emulation for the thousands of homeless kids that aim for something similar.

All of this, just by kicking a ball around.


About Slum Soccer: Slum Soccer is a 15-year-old sports-for-development organization that uses football as a tool for social upliftment for underserved classes of society. They work with recovering drug addicts, recovering alcoholics, slum dwellers, street children, juvenile delinquents, and children of commercial sex workers, and impact the lives of 12,000 children every year. Slum Soccer has been the official Indian partner of the Homeless World Cup since 2006.

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