Street football

REMEMBERING SREBRENICA by Alex Walker Walker

 Asmir Mehic from Team Bosnia at 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. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

This week marks the 21st anniversary of the bloodiest episode in post-World War II European history. The Srebrenica Massacre, which began on 11 July 1995 and lasted for 11 days, saw the genocide of 8,373 Bosniak Muslim men and boys at the hands of Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska under the command of General Ratko Mladić. Between 25,000 and 30,000 women, children and elderly people were forcibly removed, abused and displaced by the end of this grotesque chapter in modern European history.

Asmir Mehić, 23, who is part of the Bosnia-Herzegovina squad, was only two years old at the time of the genocide. “I was just a baby so I can’t remember very clearly,” he says. “I left with my mother and we ran away to the free zone in Tuzla. My father stayed behind in Srebrenica to fight and was killed in the war. My mother has shown me and told me all about what happened.

“The war was religious and it was aggression against the Muslim population. We were only executed because we were Muslims. It is silly to fight over religion. Religion is supposed to spread peace amongst people, not war. The war was silly, but very deadly.”
— Asmir Mehić
 Asmir Mehic from Team Bosnia at 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. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

 

It was extremely hard for Mehić’s mother to provide a family home in Tuzla because everything the family had had been left behind in Srebrenica. “We have been there for over 20 years, but we have never been able to afford our own house and make our own home there,” Mehić says. “We have lived in collective accommodation most of the time.”

A keen amateur footballer most of his life, and a big fan of Barcelona and Sarajevo, Mehić became involved with National Partner of the Homeless World Cup, IFS-Emmaus, when some people who were aware of his living situation asked the organisation to reach out to him.

They asked him to attend the training sessions with the organization, which offers invaluable support and guidance to young people from sensitive and vulnerable groups. His face lights up into a beaming smile when asked football means to him. “First of all, I love just playing football, it is a great sport,” he says.

“The most popular in the world and through football you can come together with other people, it brings different people together. Coming here to Glasgow I have had the chance to meet other people from other cultures like I’ve never had the chance to before. The Scottish people are really good hosts and its beautiful here,” he enthuses, although laughs as he adds: “The weather could be better!”

Looking to the future, Mehić says: “I want to find a job and have a stable situation. I want to build a home and start a family. In Bosnia, I coached young kids and I would love to do this as a job in the future as I love football so much.”

Words by Gregor Dow - gregordow@icloud.com  

LOST FOR WORDS by Alex Walker Walker

 Angel O'Dwyer from Team England. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

The moment Angel O’Dwyer was asked to join the England team for the Homeless World Cup will forever be etched in her memory.

“When I got the call to come to the Homeless World Cup I was lost for words, and it’s not easy for me, I could literally talk for England,” she said.

The 17-year-old from Croydon near London believes that her trajectory from joining with England’s street football set-up to playing in the tournament has seen her mature in many ways.

“When I first started the Street Football Association Training Programme, I was a self-centred rebellious little girl and I can seriously say, going home tomorrow, I am a young woman now who puts everyone before herself and abides by the rules.”

And while the tournament has went on, the post-match review of the team’s performances has worked as both a critique and a reminder of how they have been getting on day by day.

“Every night after our matches we have watched our games. If we did something wrong, we drag it up and see how could have improved it. And if it was something good, we drag it back up so we can all re-live that moment of excitement again.”

For Angela, football has helped her deal with the problems she has encountered in her life and has given her the motivation to succeed in the future.

“Growing up it was quite tough for me and my family, and quite a few tragic things happened to me. Football was my way out. Football has always been my way out. Football has saved me and made me the person who I am today.”

As the tournament draws to a close, the end of her time as part of the England set-up alongside her teammates is something she isn’t particularly looking forward to.

 

“I’ve loved every minute of it, I don’t ever want to go home.”

Words by Craig Williams - patrice44@hotmail.co.uk

Team Indonesia at the Homeless World Cup by Alex Walker Walker

I had the pleasure this year of working again for the Homeless World Cup organisation, covering their annual street soccer competition, this year being held in Amsterdam.  It was brilliant to work with such a talented media team and i'm looking forward to sharing a few images and stories from the tournament over the next few days.   

Words by Staff writer HWC©Homeless World Cup, 

“WE WANTED SOMETHING UNIQUE FROM INDONESIA"

Few teams were more recognisable or beloved at the Homeless World Cup than Indonesia, with players sporting bright red mohawks and putting on war paint to take the pitch.

The hairstyles – cut and dyed especially for the tournament – were designed to be celebratory, identifiable, and fun. The war paint, donned prior to taking the pitch, gave the players extra courage. The two make the Indonesian players some of the most easily recognizable at the event.

“We wanted something unique from Indonesia,” said Indonesia’s Rokim of the hair and the war paint. “It’s sometimes like this, sometimes like this,” he said, clarifying that the players style their hair differently each day, just for fun.

Their team manager indicated that they entrusted the barber with deciding which styles were best, and they all laughed in agreement: they’d left the final styling decision to the pro.It seems the barber nailed the hairstyles, because the response from other players and the public was incredibly warm: “People like it,” Rokim added. “They say ‘nice cut,’ ‘nice hairstyle.’”

 Team Indonesia praying before a match. 

The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2015 is taking place in amsterdam from september 12th to September 19th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Such skin-deep accoutrements may seem like light icebreakers, but they at least partially have a more serious purpose: one of Rumah Cemara’s primary goals is to raise awareness about and reduce stigma around living with HIV/AIDS. The eye-catching hairstyles help them stand out.

Rokim, who hails from a rural area of Indonesia and whose parents are farmers, contracted HIV through non-sterilized tattoo equipment. He joined Rumah Cemara’s program in 2009 and was selected for the 2015 Homeless World Cup team. “I hope to have less stigma,” he says of his post-tournament aspirations. “I am hoping to have a better life.”

Teammate Kiki Kurnia grew up in a good family, but his parents divorced in high school and he started using drugs to cope. It was during this time that he contracted HIV. “I stopped using drugs and got married to a beautiful girl,” he says, but acknowledges that the HIV remains “the nightmare that is my life.”

“The hardest thing about living with HIV is the lack of acceptance,” he said, adding that the Homeless World Cup is “a tool for me to increase the quality of life and to change the perspectives of other people towards HIV.”

For him, Rumah Cemara offers a “comfortable place” that is safe.

So too does the Homeless World Cup. The best part of it, Kurnia says, is: “I can meet some people from other countries with different cultures, with different languages. Together we are one.”

The team came to the Homeless World Cup via Rumah Cemara, a community-based organisation that helps people experiencing drug and alcohol addiction, who are homeless or marginalised, or who are living with HIV/AIDS.