- It is Day 5 of the 15th Homeless World Cup which is taking place in the centre of Oslo and I am rushing to watch a game between Scotland and England when I see a familiar face. Big smiles and big hugs.
It’s Angela. She was a player on the USA team at the 2014 Homeless World Cup which was held in Santiago. She tells me how well she is doing with a portfolio of interesting jobs and a happy life. She has come over to see the event which helped change the course of her life and take in some hiking in Norway while she is over.
Less than a minute later, two young Norwegian women approach me. They both want to say hi. One was also a player at the Santiago Homeless World Cup and she tells me how she is now completely free of drugs which had blighted her life and is now studying at university. She is full of praise for the Norwegian programme which helped her. The other was a player at last year’s event in Glasgow and she has also changed her life completely; now living a normal life in Oslo with a part-time job and some studying as well.
There are many special moments at each annual Homeless World Cup. This is another one. Within the space of a few minutes three people have told me how football has changed their lives completely. This is what the Homeless World Cup is all about. Yes, it is a wonderful occasion with lots of goals and enthralling football matches, but the real aim of the Homeless World Cup is to change people’s lives.
For some people, they see profits in terms of bags of gold. For me, my profits are these wonderful moments like meeting these three young people who have changed their lives and are able to articulate so well what has happened.
I feel brilliant. I just make it in time to see the Scotland v England women’s match. It’s a thriller. And England win. I should feel sad to watch my country lose to our neighbouring sporting rivals but I don’t. I watch the players embrace together afterwards. They play competitively but the spirit of togetherness once they have finished playing shines through. Many of them are changing their lives in front of our eyes.
I go skipping off for a coffee. Previously, I had met Scott Neeson, who had come to support the Cambodian team. A fellow Scot, who had previously been a movie executive in Los Angeles, he had given it up to set up a hugely impactful charity in Phnom Penh (www.cambodianchildrenfund.org) which he runs today. His story is inspirational.
We need to inspire each other if we are going to change what is a very difficult and dark place for thousands of people.
I feel inspired by the people around me today. It feels really good.
Today has been a good day.