DAY 6: Tuesday 30th July 2019
This is my sixth daily blog about the Homeless World Cup which is taking place in Bute Park in the centre of Cardiff until August 3. It is a personal reflection or diary piece rather than a chronicle of events.
Well, it had to happen didn’t it? It started raining!
After days of golden sunshine in Cardiff, we had to put up with a day of almost continuous rain. As organisers we don’t like the rain. It has the potential to put off spectators from turning up and can change the atmosphere at the Homeless World Cup venue. Go away rain, but it settled in for the day and wouldn’t leave. But, hey, it wasn’t going to bother us!
Rain never really stops a football match, does it? We are used to playing football in the rain in the UK and it makes no difference at the Homeless World Cup either. The football games remained bang on schedule all day and although the pitch surfaces were a little slippy sometimes it heightened the skill factor of the teams even more. It was another great day in Cardiff with some very evenly contested games.
But the atmosphere really pumped up in the players’ tented area. This is where the players change and prepare for their games and relax after they have finished playing. It isn’t open to the public – it’s their space, their changing room. It is usually quite quiet – players are keen to watch other games or visit Cardiff and they don’t tend to hang around there for long. But today because of the rain, players from all teams are taking shelter. And then someone turns on the music!
Cue – time to dance. Players from all countries join hands and start dancing to the music. The atmosphere is full of laughs and positive energy. The players will take part in competitive games and they will be determined to win but off the pitch they are together as one, dancing together. They can’t speak the same language and many have come from incredibly difficult backgrounds but here they all are dancing together and celebrating their friendship.
It is incredibly moving and uplifting. If you read the mainstream news it seems like the world has problems day after day and the future seems bleak and insurmountable. At the Homeless World Cup, these players are giving everyone a completely different signal, where the world can be a very different place based on values of togetherness and fairness.
I do my fair share of media interviews each day and today, BBC radio Five Live have come down to broadcast live from Bute Park. They are interviewing lots of the people associated with the event right through from organisers to the players. It is the players who have the stories to tell. The media haven’t heard their voices before and what they have to say is compelling and insightful.
As with most journalists who come to the Homeless World Cup, they are blown away by the atmosphere and global dimension of the story-telling. I can tell that the interviewers on Five Live are trying to understand and articulate exactly what is going on. They can detect something which is very different and impactful and they are trying to convey that to their listeners. It’s a fabulous dynamic as the players explain just how the Homeless World Cup has impacted their lives and taken them from the dark place on the street to a football pitch bathed in light which has changed their lives.
I can articulate how we have built the foundations on which the players can perform and how we could create a world without homelessness but it is the voices of the players which we need to listen to and then act on their words of optimism and vision. Rain? What rain? They are all inspiring. And tomorrow, the sun returns!