The 2008 Melbourne Homeless World Cup is right around the corner. Get tickets now if you would like to enjoy the Australian summer while taking in some transient action on the pitch.
While common sense reason would tell me otherwise…..living in Washington, DC, where the homeless presence has increased in the current economic environment, the idea of a Homeless World Cup, now in it’s 6th year, can’t help but conjure up some interesting images in my head.
I imagine spirited competition just like any other serious sporting event. However, instead of uniforms, participants are wearing tattered clothes, worn in upwards of eight layers. Perhaps there’s a guy trying to play while a hefty bag full of world possessions is in his grasp. Maybe the main striker wonders off the field during the course of play to pee in a glass jar. Instead of Gatorade baths, players squeegee each other off. The goals are over-sized grocery carts turned on their sides. Each player has homemade cardboard signs pinned to their back with name and jersey number…..some signs go on diatribes about implanted government chips. (Actually, if you are homeless and you make something yourself, can you really call it homemade?) In any case, perhaps the benches would be akin to the gentlemen in the photo below making comfortable use of a chain between two poles.
But the Homeless World Cup does have some interesting ‘Street Soccer’ Rules…including:
- If you’re homeless and younger than 16, no dice. So, a homeless man’s homeless Freddy Adu is left at home….or wherever……left to consider his self worth.
- You are eligible if you meet one of the following conditions:
- fall under the definition of homelessness under U.S. code
- make your main living as a ‘street paper vendor’
- are seeking asylum
- are in drug or alcohol rehab and have been homeless at some point in past two years
- Remember that medal you won at the 2007 Homeless World Cup? Well, you’re not getting another as previous participants are ineligible….I guess the homeless don’t deserve dynasties.
- Intense training and endurance need not apply. Each half is only seven minutes long.
Don’t expect the good ol’ U.S. of A. to go down under and bend it like Beckham….the American squad is currently ranked 36th in the world. Right now, Scotland dominates the homeless soccer scene. [Homeless World Cup Rankings]
In all seriousness, homelessness, needless to say, is a big problem around the world. And from what I can gather, the Homeless World Cup has provided a positive venue for change in the lives of many. To get more info, or to support the cause, go check out www.homelessworldcup.org.