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More than 500 men and women will represent their country at the Homeless World Cup in Oslo, Norway. FIFPro and its member unions aim to help these players get their lives back on track.

For the third consecutive year, FIFPro will hand out a daily Fair Play award to players who show great sportsmanship at the event, which runs from August 29th to September 5th.

Six FIFPro member unions from England, India, Ireland, Israel, Scotland and Switzerland support local street football organizations by supplying them with equipment, including footballs, tracksuits, shin pads and shoes.

At the 2016 FIFPro general assembly, all member associations agreed to follow the example of these unions and support their local street football organization.

“We expect that other members will be involved soon,” said Tony Higgins, chairman of FIFPro’s social responsibility committee.

 

PFA Ireland

PFA Ireland provided the Irish Homeless Street Leagues (IHSL) with special footwear suitable for the artificial turf pitches in Norway. That gesture means more than just free boots, said Sean Kavanagh, founder and chairman of IHSL, which helps people who have faced difficulties such as homelessness, addiction or imprisonment.

“By recognising the efforts of our players and coaches, the PFAI has shown that there is a common bond between all those who take to the field of play in pursuit of their dreams,” Kavanagh told FIFPro.

“To be a part of the football family is so important to individuals who, having once been isolated, now feel a sense of belonging.”

Through participating in team sports such as football these people develop self-confidence, self-discipline, interpersonal skills and a healthy lifestyle, Kavanagh said.

Playing at the Homeless World Cup provides extra motivation, Kavanagh added. “Can you imagine what it’s like wearing your country’s jersey on the field while the national anthem is played?”

“Our players may never attain the level of success of their professional counterparts, but by overcoming the many obstacles they have had to face, it is a success in itself to play the game.”

HWC ENG IND 640 John Hudson and the South African team, Cyrus Confectioner and the Indian teams

More examples from around the world

John Hudson, PFA England director of Community: “With our partner Tackle Africa, we have been supporting South African organization OASIS for a number of years. With our backing, OASIS has been able to educate local people on various issues, from HIV/AIDS prevention to basic IT skills. We also funded a local tournament and are providing kit for the South African Homeless World Cup team.”

Cyrus Confectioner, FPAI India general manager: “Last year, we provided the Indian team with footballs and two sets of kits including tracksuits. We also sent India national team players to meet the squad to give them inspiration and tips. This year we are trying to get a sponsor to extend financial support.”

Tony Higgins, PFA Scotland president: “We provided 50 footballs for use in the Homeless League from which the players are selected for the Scottish team. The balls were made by an African charity called ‘Alive and Kicking‘, so we were able not only to support the team, but also this social enterprise in Africa.”

The Israeli player organization, IFPO, has supplied local organization Football for Homeless with equipment, while the Swiss player association, SAFP, is donating shin pads to the Swiss homeless team.

 

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