Last month the Salvation Army Centre of Hope, in partnership with the City of London, started a baseball league for people experiencing homelessness. Next month, the London Homelessness Outreach Network in partnership with Youth Opportunities Unlimited will be starting a running group for youth experiencing homelessness. Both of these initiatives are in response to the need for meaningful daily activities for people experiencing homelessness. I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to the largest sports initiative for people experiencing homelessness: The Homeless World Cup (www.homelessworldcup.org).
As you might imagine, The Homeless World Cup is an international soccer (or football) tournament held annually, featuring athletes with lived experiences of homelessness. What you might be surprised to learn is that the international event represents a collaboration of over 70 nations who have soccer leagues or teams for homeless persons. The Canadian team comes out of Victoria, BC, part of Street Soccer Canada. As well, there is of course a companion event, the Homeless Women’s World Cup.
Now, although there is an inspiring degree of coordination, and likely a strong therapeutic component to this kind of international endeavour, it is also somewhat depressing to know that homelessness is a large enough issue around the world to allow for such events. Our running group for homeless youth provides activity and socialization, but it also represents building more programs and services around that which we seek to eliminate.
Regardless, the 2011 Homeless World Cup in Paris starts August 21, and all events will be streamed online. You can also follow the organizer on his blog at http://melyoung.posterous.com.