Glasgow to host 2016 Homeless World Cup

Homeless World Cup 2016The 2016 Homeless World Cup is to be held in Glasgow, it was announced yesterday.

The Homeless World Cup Foundation said the seven day tournament, which will take place on George Square, will be “the most inspiring place on the planet”.

In total, 64 teams, representing 51 countries, will come together to celebrate and highlight the year round life changing work of the Homeless World Cup National Partner network. Five hundred twelve players will arrive in Glasgow each with their own story to tell, their own point on a journey to create a better life for themselves.

George Square will be converted into an outdoor street football venue for the event, with three purpose built pitches with seating. Up to 100,000 of spectators are expected to attend the tournament, which will start on Sunday 10 July and run until Saturday 16 July. Entry is free every day, and tickets are not required.

The Square has been the focal point for Glasgow’s Street Football finals since 2012. The Street Football programme provides diversionary activities for young people aged between 12 and 18 years, with an average 1,200 players taking part in weekly sessions across the city.

The 2016 Homeless World Cup is the 14th edition of the tournament. The first took place in Graz, Austria in 2003. The tournament was last hosted in Scotland in 2005, in Edinburgh. Last year’s Homeless World Cup was in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Through each country’s official National Partner, those who are homeless – for which there are dozens of different definitions across the world – have the opportunity to enter transformative programmes from which they can build a brighter life. The Homeless World Cup Glasgow 2016 is the culmination of a year of progress for each country and player involved. Teams are invited to Glasgow following an application process, alongside an assessed scoring system that includes analysis of each National Partner programme’s activity over the last 12 months. Participating countries will be announced shortly.

The Homeless World Cup returns to Scotland as part of a partnership between the Homeless World Cup Foundation, the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council (via Culture Sports Glasgow).

Additionally, the Homeless World Cup has been encouraged by the range of local business pledging their support and services, all of which will add real value to the tournament. Announcements of each company’s involvement will be announced in the weeks ahead.

Homeless World Cup Foundation President, Mel Young, who also co-founded The Big Issue magazine in Scotland said: “We are happy to be bringing the Homeless World Cup back to Scotland after 11 years, and know Glasgow will be an amazing host city, with George Square the focal point. We are delighted to be working in partnership with The Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council, and Culture Sport Glasgow to deliver what we’re sure will be the biggest tournament yet.

“What is important for me to stress is that this is significantly more than a football tournament; it’s a real celebration of optimism. We will have 512 players with us, and every single one of them is at some stage of their journey towards a more stable future. Their personal stories are remarkable, often very moving, but they reflect a real sense of hope for social justice.

“We want people to come to George Square in their tens of thousands this July, and feel that sense of optimism, and to be inspired by it. Knowing Glasgow as we do, there are surely few better places in the world to celebrate our movement.”

Minister for sport, health improvement and mental health, Jamie Hepburn MSP, said: “It’s great news that the Homeless World Cup is coming to Glasgow, and I’m delighted that the Scottish Government has been able to fund the tournament. The Homeless World Cup teaches us about the power of sport to bring people together and change lives for the better. Every one of the players will have a powerful story. Many of them have experienced real hardship, but all are on the path to a more positive future, and it’s inspirational to see the role that sport is playing in their lives.

“I’m sure that when the event starts this July it will really capture the imagination of Glasgow, and Scotland as a whole. I for one can’t wait for it to kick off.”

Depute leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor Archie Graham OBE, said: “Sport changes lives. We know that from experience in Glasgow. It inspires and connects with people on so many levels and the Homeless World Cup is the perfect example of that. It raises awareness of the challenges faced by many people in communities across the world but more than that, it shows what can be achieved by working together.

“Every participant has their own unique story to tell as they take steps to transform their lives through the power of sport and that will shine through during a week-long festival of football in George Square. That will be the real success of the Homeless World Cup – it will help create a brighter future for so many people from across the world.”

David Duke, founder and chief executive of Street Soccer Scotland, added: “Street Soccer Scotland select, coach and mentor Team Scotland at the Homeless World Cup every year. It’s great to offer our players, who will be selected from the many thousands who take part in our hundreds of football programmes across the country, with an opportunity to represent their country on home turf. Glasgow is a great host city, and its people will open their hearts to the inspiring players from across the world.”

Scotland & Celtic captain and Homeless World Cup ambassador, Scott Brown, said: “As a Homeless World Cup ambassador it is exciting to see the tournament coming to Scotland this summer. I’ve learnt in recent years the impact the Homeless World Cup Foundation has across the globe, and it’s inspiring and humbling that more than 1m people have been able to get their lives on the move. Obviously, I’ll be supporting Team Scotland, but I hope the tournament is a brilliant success and the people of Glasgow come out in their numbers in July.”

Scotland National Team Assistant Manager & Motherwell FC manager Mark McGhee added: “It is fantastic that the Homeless World Cup is coming to Scotland in July. George Square is sure to be an inspiring place as hundreds of players, engaged in incredible journeys, have the opportunity to celebrate, together. It is once again a reminder of the remarkable power of football, in this case changing lives.”

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