When my friend and colleague Shannon Bream told me about homeless people from different countries around the world playing soccer against each other, I must admit... I laughed. Sounded too... well, weird to be honest!
But it's anything but weird - it's brilliant, exciting and inspiring. Go to www.homelessworldcup.org and check it out. Here's a little about it from the website:
There are one billion homeless people living in our world today.
The Homeless World Cup exists to end this, so we all have a home, a basic human need.
The Homeless World Cup is an annual, international football tournament, uniting teams of people who are homeless and excluded to take a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent their country and change their lives forever. It has triggered and supports grass roots football projects in over 60 nations working with over 25,000 homeless and excluded people throughout the year.
The first tournament took place in Graz 2003 uniting 17 national teams. At the 5th Homeless World Cup in Copenhagen this summer, 48 nations, 500 players were united for a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent their country. Melbourne is the host city for the next tournament from 1-7 December 2008.
The impact is consistently significant year on year with 73% of players changing their lives for the better by coming off drugs and alcohol, moving into jobs, education, homes, training, reuniting with families and even going on to become players and coaches for pro or semi-pro football teams.
The Homeless World Cup supporters include UEFA, Nike, UN, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Ambassador Eric Cantona and international footballers Didier Drogba and Rio Ferdinand.
The national tryouts for the USA team was this past weekend here in Washington and I really hope that I can figure out how to get myself to Melbourne, Australia in Decemeber to see them compete.
There is also a movie/documentary out now about the Cup called "Kicking It." Check it out here.