A Greek Philosophy 

Yesterday I caught up with the Greek team and I videod their responses. Apologies for the background noise. 
Here is the unedited version. 
I found some of the answers profound and they spoke as always from their heart. 

  
  
We continue the questions. They expressed what it felt to be Homeless and Invisible. 

  
The sense of belonging to the team and each other, unity beyond borders. A unique experience in the world. 

  
They may not be the best team on the pitch,  but off it their quality shines through. 

  
They know that they should never give up. 

  
  
   
 

  
I know I for one am better for knowing them. I hope you see the spirit that despite all the well documented problems in Greece. They will never give up. 

  

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Scoring Goals changed his lifestyle

Many of the players I meet have goals on and off the pitch. 

The experience at the Homeless World Cup can be a life changing one. 

For Frederick Soluski playing in the Homeless World Cup in Poznan in 2013, was the catalyst to moving forward. As part of the Ghanaian team that year, it inspired him to chase his goal. 

It was football that helped him, saved him from obscurity in Accra, and opened the door to the possibilities. 

"Life is tough in Ghana and everybody is working and striving to make a better life for themselves. You have to keep asking and hoping that one day the door will open. ". He said. 

  There is support available from individual organisations like GIMAT Volunteer Network (GVN) who helped Frederick. 
He acknowledges without them he would have still been struggling. 

"About 6 months after Poznan, I was writing to football clubs hoping to get a trial. Eventually i had a response from FC Internationale Berlin" I moved to Germany and have been playing ever since.  I hope to get a job soon. " 

He is also working with young people on a 'no to racism' project and he had to be here in Amsterdam to reconnect from where he started. 

It's always good to hear the progress some of the players make. 

I asked him how could we address the problem of homelessness. 

"I wish there was a place for everybody to go in every town and city, unfortunately there isn't. If I were in charge there would be."

"People need to realise that we need each other, you cannot exclude a whole group of people one day we will need each other. "

Frederick has proved there is more than one way to score a goal. 

Copocabana to Coach

Its always a great part of the Homeless World Cup, catching up with old friends from previous tournaments. 

Some return as volunteers, some as coaches or as fans just to spectate. 

I caught up with one of these friends. Arezki Saouli, as a player for France in Rio 2010 we spent many hours chatting at the players venue. 

  
He returned as a coach in 2011, in 2012 and in 2013 as a fan with his new bride. 

This year as a Coach he returns again. 

I wondered what makes people like Arezki (and me ) want to come back time and time again. 

” it’s become a necessity for me, my second family. ” he spoke in English. ” I feel I have to be here if at all possible. 

” When I speak to the players I do it through a remembrance that I was Homeless.”

It is infectious and a unique experience and we both agreed that it about being recognised first and foremost as a human being. It’s a feeling shared whether your a coach, referee or player. 

So why does football work in this way in so many countries? 

When summing up he said I don’t have the English to explain so he said  in French. 

“Le Football est in sport federatuer avec in etat d’esprit collectif” 

Simply translated it creates a collective spirit.  Both on and off the pitch. 

Whatever the reason you come you will leave different. I’m sure this won’t be the last we see of Arezki or his like. 

Rita the woman who can. 

Sometimes you make a connection in life that teaches you something you didn’t expect. 

I spoke to Rita Riveros Hermosilla a 42 years young player for the Argentinian Women’s Team.I asked about how it felt to be the flag bearer at the parade. 

  
 “I felt so happy, so emotional like a child” she beamed with joy. 
“I never imagined I would have this moment” 
Although my Spanish is very little and her English was the same we were able to communicate. 
We both observed this connection you can have and overcome any language. 
A hug is universal after all. 
Representing her country had an impact and she was unsure what the future holds, she does know it will be different as a result of this. 
Having to overcome stigma and discrimination in her life, she remains positive and happy. She said something very profound in broken English that struck a chord with me. 
“I realised” she said. ” I CAN, you CAN, we all CAN.”
I felt I was speaking to female Argentinian Obama. 
I’m sure whatever she wants to do in the future she CAN do it. 
Rita spoke of wanting to open a football clinic, football for her has been therapy. It’s a common thread that the act of playing and taking your mind away from any troubles in your life can be very therapeutic. 
I for one can wait to visit ‘Rita’s Football Clinic’ coming soon. 
Visit their blog on the link below. 
http://argentinahechoclubsocial.blogspot.nl/?m=1

A veces se realiza una conexión en la vida que te enseña algo que no esperaba.
Hablé con Rita Riveros Hermosilla un 42 años joven jugador para el equipo de las Mujeres Argentinas.
  

Le pregunté cómo se sentía al ser el portador de la bandera en el desfile.
“Me sentí tan feliz, tan emocional como un niño” ella sonrió con alegría.
“Nunca me imaginé que tendría este momento”
Aunque mi español es muy poco y su Inglés fue el mismo pudimos comunicar.
Ambos observamos esta conexión se puede tener y superar cualquier idioma.
Un abrazo es universal después de todo.
En representación de su país tuvo un impacto y no estaba segura de lo que depara el futuro, ella sabe que será diferente, como resultado de esto.
Al tener que superar el estigma y la discriminación en su vida, ella sigue siendo positiva y feliz. Ella dijo algo muy profundo en Inglés rota que tocó la fibra sensible conmigo.
“Me di cuenta”, dijo. “Me puede, puede, todos podemos.”
Sentí que estaba hablando a mujer Obama argentino.
Estoy seguro de lo que quiere hacer en el futuro que puede hacerlo.
Rita habló de querer abrir una clínica de fútbol, ​​fútbol para ella ha sido la terapia. Es un hilo común que el acto de jugar y tomar su mente lejos de cualquier problema en su vida puede ser muy terapéutico.
Por mi parte, puedo esperar a volver de ‘Clínica de Fútbol de Rita’ próximamente.
Visite su blog en el siguiente enlace.
http://argentinahechoclubsocial.blogspot.nl/?m=1

Players,Parade and Pride

The opening day and the parade kicks off a week of street soccer. 

Players come from all over the world in celebration of life and survival. Achievement surrounds them, before a ball has been kicked everyone is a winner. 

I caught up with Hannah Voice a 20 year old goalkeeper from the HFA England’s Women Team. 

  

She spoke of her pride and overwhelming joy at not only representing her country but being chosen to be captain and flag bearer. 

“It’s beyond my wildest dreams, a totally life changing moment”. 

Having become homeless a year ago, given a label of homeless. Today on the field of football she was given a new label ‘flag bearer’ one that she hopes is the catalyst. 

“I hope to work for the HFA, it would be my dream to be in football again. ” 

She was once as a 12 year old on the books of Chelsea, before an injury halted her career. 

“Words can’t describe the emotion I felt. ” 

A sense of pride on her face and a moment of reflection on how far she’s come in a year. 

Symbolically waving the flag for many others back in England. Showing that redefining the labels is sometimes is all it takes.  

  

I spoke to a guy in my hostel that like many others came to see a few matches today , he said he didn’t believe they were or had been homeless. After a long discussion, he understood a bit more about that label. Interesting to note that’s not what he saw though he saw players, with pride for their countries. I hope that’s what the world sees. 

Follow the work of the Homeless Football association on the link below. 

http://homelessfa.org

Going Dutch

It’s that time again when I head off to the Homeless World Cup, this year in Amsterdam. 
This will be the 7th year attending each one has its own unique flavour and atmosphere. The one consistent is the overwhelming feeling of joy, inspiration and camaraderie. 

If you weren’t aware it was where the long journey of Streets Revolution began back in 2009. 

Since then I have been fortunate enough to not only attend every year, but meet some wonderful human beings that have inspired me and made me aware of the HOPE that the simple act of kicking a ball together can bring. 

My perceptions have been changed, my education although not complete has been thorough. I’ve been challenged about how I think about homelessness and what that means in different parts of the world.  

The Netherlands has in Amsterdam approached the issue of homelessness in a way tackling the problem at the root cause.  

Here is a link and a more in depth look it makes for interesting reading;

Homeless in Amsterdam

I never really know what to expect the people I meet and the conversations I will have.  I can guarantee a few things, great football, awesome people, inspirational stories and reassurance that despite the societal problems, economic difficulties and rising pressure across the globe as homelessness is on the increase, that there are people working hard to end this situation, that sport has a part to make a difference.  That there is light at the end of that tunnel. There is HOPE. 

Please follow some of these stories here and visit the Homeless World Cup website to get live action and be part of it wherever you are. 

https://www.homelessworldcup.org/tournament/