Jody Pollock, at Next American City says, "The Homeless World Cup, an annual, international soccer (football) tournament with grassroots football programs for the homeless in over 70 nations, reports improvements across the board in motivation, social relations, employment, housing and drug and alcohol dependency since its first game in Graz, Austria in 2003. Their roughly 70% success rate in significant life changes is unparalleled in most social inclusion projects, which normally experience a rate of around 30%, says Kat Byles, communications and media director for the Homeless World Cup."
While helping the players, it also helps refocus the greater population, and kind of forces them to see the homeless not just as a problem, but people, and in fact, important in their community. Pollock continues: "For the around 100,000 spectators who attended the 2007 championship in Copenhagen, and for the hundreds more who attend other local or national games, the tournaments are coming to redefine public opinion on what it means to be homeless. Hands on hearts, belting national anthems, cheered by thousands, the players become heroes – 'a very different place from where they first begin the journey, ignored, or worse, even spat at on the streets,' says [Kat] Byles [communications and media director for the Homeless World Cup]."
Just a really cool idea, and an excellent write-up of it, and other sports based programming for those in poverty. Check out the rest of the article here.