For Stephen Hawkins, a 46-year-old volunteer from Liverpool, this year’s Homeless World Cup was his sixth in a row. And having been bitten by the bug in Paris in 2011, his attendance here in Glasgow indicates how much he enjoys being part of the tournament.
“I’ve got a big passion for football and I’ve got a passion for helping those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. And when those two come together, it just makes everything so worth it,” he said.
As part of the sports team, Hawkins ensures that all the games run smoothly and that everything that happens in the tournament recorded and documented correctly, and has been witness to the extraordinary changes in the lives of those who have participated over the years.
“There have been so many people whose lives have been transformed by this tournament. It’s been a catalyst for change and I’ve seen the evidence of this over the years. I’m still in contact with people around the country who have played at the Homeless World Cup and they are living healthy lives with responsible jobs.
And he has some advice for those who may be thinking about volunteering at next year’s finals in Oslo.
“Go for it. As a volunteer at the Homeless World Cup you will see life, you will see joy on a level that was never experienced before, you’ll meet people from all over the world—people with smiles on their faces. You’ve just got to be here to experience with it. You can’t put it into words.”
Words by Craig Williams - firstname.lastname@example.org