DAY 1: Thursday 25th July 2019
This is my first daily blog about the Homeless World Cup which is taking place in Bute Park in the centre of Cardiff from July 27-August 3. It is a personal reflection or diary piece rather than a chronicle of events.
The action starts on Saturday. All roads lead to Cardiff and people are arriving from all parts of the globe. There’s a buzz about the place. I’m at Cardiff University’s halls of residence at Talybont where the players are staying. It is also the operational centre and it’s where four torrents of activity are coming together. The energy levels are beginning to go through the roof.
The first torrent is the teams who are arriving from all over the world. This is their moment. They have worked so hard to get here. The players are wide eyed at their new surroundings and full of expectations for the week ahead. The managers and coaches are scuttling about in organising mode, making sure everything is in good shape. The teams are signed in and allocated rooms. Next, they want to find out, “Where’s the training pitch?”
The next torrent is the local organisers who have been working tirelessly for months to make sure that this year’s event goes without a hitch. They concentrate on the details to hand and are solution orientated. How much sleep will they get tonight? Not a lot…
Then there are the volunteers. The annual event does not work without volunteers. There are local volunteers who are busy getting accreditation and finding out what tasks they will be doing during the week. They are meeting some of the international volunteers who come every year and bring their own unique experience and personality to the event. There’s a lot of hugging going on – it’s like a family reunion!
The fourth torrent of energy is the Homeless World Cup staff who have worked all the year round for this event. They have arrived from their headquarters in Edinburgh and like the organisers, they won’t be getting much sleep over the next ten days. This is a nervous moment because teams are travelling and there are always challenges with connecting flights or visas. It seems to be okay just now but one or two teams are being rerouted due to cancelled flights. Fingers firmly crossed. Will they all make it?
These four torrents now come together in Cardiff. There is a mass of positive energy. And there is one common goal – to make this 17th edition of the Homeless World Cup an outstanding success. Everyone is focused, rushing everywhere with purpose. You can almost touch the energy with its air of expectation and camaraderie.
It is brilliant to be here.
Oh, and it’s Press Day. There is a lot of media interest and journalists are here to file stories and carry out some interviews. I give some of them a few words about the journey of the Homeless World Cup since we started in 2003. Michael Sheen, who is the driving force behind the Homeless World Cup this year in Cardiff, is working flat out giving lots of interviews and talking about his commitment and passion for this year’s event. His energy is truly amazing.
The sun is shining brightly here in Cardiff. Later I go for a jog and run past the site in Bute Park where the event will start on Saturday. They are putting the final touches to the stadium. All that energy is going to descend here for a week and many lives will be changed in the process. Forever.