Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Homeless World Cup

As my lunchbreak yesterday, I popped down to Birrurang Marr to watch a couple of matches as part of the Homeless World Cup, currently being staged in Melbourne.

As I found a seat in the Yarra Pitch Stand, the New Zealand team completed their haka, before their game against Ethiopia.

Upon a pint sized court, the two teams played a version of street soccer, with 7 minute halves. Fast paced game, with a goalie and three players on court at any one time, with an on side rule (according to the live commentator).

The Ethiopian powered ahead in the second half, taking the match 8 goals to 3.

A DJ played as the teams changed over, and the Cambodian team in red, and their Sierra Leone opponents entered the court. The crowd stood for the respective anthems, with the huge Sierra Leone lads standing hands on heart. The tiny Cambodian team looked mere school boys along from them!

An Aussie reserve helping the Cambodian team with numbers, scored the first goal, before the bigger team started to pick up the pace. The game got faster, as the talent in the Khmer goalie become more and more apparent. Agile, so very fast, he was a joy to watch.

Reminders of the soccer games that played almost constantly on the dry space in front of the National Museum, behind which I lived for a few months, in Phnom Penh.

A group of Aussies in the crowd had Cambodian flags, and were cheering on the little team, playing soccer to the backdrop of the Melbourne CBD buildings.
A change of ends at half time, with the score 2-1 to Sierra Leone. The Cambodian team put on the pressure, and worked hard to end the 14 minute match ahead 5-4. The little Khmer boys were so excited to win their first group match.

The tournament runs all week, with a big pitch stadium under the big screen in Federation Square. Playing for a number of different trophies, the players for all over the world, who are all over 16 and have been homeless for some point in the last 12 months, or make a living as a street paper seller, or are asylum seekers with unconfirmed status, or are in drug or alcohol rehabilitation. An amazing opportunity to represent their country, travel to another part of the world, share the spirit of team in this most universal sport, and gain self esteem and life skills - all whilst raising awareness to their plight.


  1. hooray for female sports appreciation :) thanks for your comment!

  2. you going for the 365 project now?


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