The curtain came down on the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow on Saturday, while the Chaplain for Sport explained how sport can reach many people and bring awareness to important causes.
“Sport can reach – and bring into the sunlight and human awareness – areas of our Global City other activities cannot,” Fr Vladimir Felzmann, the Chaplain for Sport and CEO for the John Paul II Foundation for Sport told The Universe.
“It can bring people bring together and help heal trauma caused by violence and homelessness, as Glasgow has demonstrated so clearly this year.”
The chaplain added that humanity is not only homo sapiens but homo ludens. “Play is as important for holistic health as is clean water, food, accommodation, basic medical care and education,” he said.
“Hence I am as committed to my now-toddler John Paul II Foundation for Sport as I have been – for many decades now – to The Passage, committed to ending homelessness; in Victoria, London.”
More than 50 teams took part in the 14th Homeless World Cup tournament, which has been described as a ‘wonderful success’ by organisers.
The event is run by the Homeless World Cup Foundation, set up to support and inspire homeless people through the sport.
The president and founder of the Homeless World Cup is Mel Young, who is recognised as one of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs.
The Scot co-founded The Big Issue in Scotland in 1993 and has helped transfer his entrepreneurial spirit to football as a method of helping a bigger issue.
Around 100 million people are defined as homeless worldwide, with a further 1.6 billion lacking adequate housing, according to organisers.
The event has been recognised far and wide with the likes of the Duke of Cambridge and United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, sending messages of support.
Ahead of the event the Duke of Cambridge said, “The Homeless World Cup Foundation is taking a unique approach to this problem, using the universal language of football to tackle the issue.
“Every one of the 512 players in this tournament is homeless. They have each engaged with programmes run by the foundation to deal with some incredible personal challenges to make it here.
“This competition is a celebration of all that they have achieved so far, using football as a means to get back into a more stable life.”
Mexico took on Kyrgyzstan in the final of the Women’s Homeless World Cup.
Wet conditions proved difficult for the players, but it was Mexico who emerged victorious with a 5-0 win.
The Mexico men were also victorious coming away with a 6-1 win over Brazil to be crowned double winners of the 2016 Homeless World Cup for the second successive year after winning in Amsterdam in 2015.
Up to 100,000 spectators watched the matches over seven days, with the free-to-watch games being staged in George Square in the heart of Glasgow.
‘It’s been an amazing seven days in central Glasgow with the focus of the football world on George Square this afternoon for the final competitions in this year’s tournament,’ read a statement released by organisers.
‘Every match has been a corker, with penalty shoot-outs and cracking goals a-plenty, warm hugs and handshakes and stands packed with fans cheering on their native and adopted teams.
‘The pinnacle of the final day, the two Cup competitions, were played out before a packed house. Women’s Homeless World Cup holders Mexico overcame challengers Kyrgyzstan to retain the trophy 5-0, while their men’s team also put in a powerful performance to see off Brazil, 6-1, and keep the silverware.’
The next Homeless World Cup will be held in Oslo in the summer of 2017.
“I look forward to Oslo 2017!” Fr Felzman added.
Picture: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with players from the men and women’s Scotland team at the Homeless World Cup in George Square, Glasgow. (Jane Barlow/PA).