Its that time of year again (a bit earlier than usual) for the Homeless World Cup. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Taking to a different city around the world each year, this time visiting its roots, in Glasgow's George Square.
This is my third time photographing this wonderful event, and although the typical Scottish wind and rain did dampen the mood on a few of the days, the spirit of the tournament prevailed. This year, I wanted to have slightly more focus with my work, concentrating on creating a great portrait series, which in collaboration with the very talented writers I was fortunate enough to work with, create a strong feature telling the players sometimes difficult stories, and their battle overcoming hurdles in life to get to this point.
I'll share with you over the next few days, a few of the remarkable individuals I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing and how they've overcome their personal challenges in life to get where they are today.
The Intro to my 2014 Homeless World Cup Feature is still just as relevant today ;
The Homeless world cup, a concept that was imagined in 2001 by two men who came up with the idea at a conference on homelessness in Cape Town. They both believed that it was possible to “change the lives of homeless people through football”. Now in its twelfth year, it has over 52 countries competing and is an annual event. Hosted by nations around globe, it has become a life changer for many of those who today live on the margins of society.
The participants, who have all been homeless, not only have their footballing skills to prove in this whirlwind tournament, but also need to prove a commitment to others, but more importantly themselves. For the participants, the event is a light, a beacon at the end of a sometimes very long and dark tunnel.
The extraordinary atmosphere brings not only patriotic commitment and camaraderie to the sport, but also a belief in humanity where players and supporters, people from all over the world regardless of cultural backgrounds, race, belief and religion, all converge on one chosen city, participating under one flag for the title of the Homeless World Cup.
Those marginalised by society, find new hope to rebuild broken lives and reconstruct family ties. However the impact reaches far beyond those helped by this global initiative. The players who have competed become role models to others, shattering stereotypes of homelessness and changing people’s perceptions knowing that other people will follow in their footsteps. Proving to the many who are just beginning their journey that there is hope.