The Homeless World Cup destroys stereotypical images of homelessness.
If anyone had been lucky enough to witness the energy levels at the post-final event last night, then they would have witnessed something incredibly special and uplifting.
People from many different cultures and backgrounds were united in celebrating the week-long Homeless World Cup which had just finished in Oslo. They cheered each other as the prizes were handed out and they applauded the speeches loudly.
The experience has changed many lives profoundly. The players may have little or no possessions but they have found significant depth of spirit and they supported each other even if they had fought out competitive football matches earlier in the day.
The atmosphere captured the true spirit of sport. I am sure this is what the ancient inventors of the Olympic Games had in mind when they first had the idea of the Olympic Games. There is a common spirit which has bound everyone together in Oslo and no-one will ever forget it.
This is what it is all about but it has also smashed the stereotypical image of the homeless person.
The stereotypical image used continuously by the media of homeless person curled up in the street with a piece of cardboard asking for money bears no resemblance to the complexities and differences of homelessness globally.
They are often portrayed in the media as dangerous or best avoided because they have disease. But it just isn’t true. Different research shows that homeless people are much more likely to be the victim of violence that the perpetrator, for example. Yep, people attack homeless people in the street for no reason. ( Here is just one example of the research: https://www.crisis.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/crisis-reveals-scale-of-violence-and-abuse-against-rough-sleepers-as-charity-opens-its-doors-for-Christmas/ )
Homeless people are people. They are human beings. They are not a blob. I can’t stand it when they are referred to as the “the homeless”. They are people who happen to be homeless. Homeless people.
They are big and small, fat and thin, old and young, male and female, good and bad – in other words they are just like any other human being – the only difference is the unfortunate circumstances in which they find themselves. It isn’t their fault and what’s more it could happen to any of us if our situation suddenly changed.
The players who represented their country so well during the past week are not only fantastic ambassadors for their nation but they are fantastic ambassadors for the human race. What we witnessed last night was an example of how we all could be with each other – how we could live together based on a set of fundamental values.
I am very proud to have been in Oslo during the past week. It was moving and uplifting on the one hand with some outstanding football on the other – a perfect combination. It ended on a real high. People will be going back to their own country with renewed vigour to change their lives and to involve others as the movement to end homelessness grows.