Soccer is used as an agent for social change all over the world in many different ways. This Sunday will mark the culmination of the a week long tournament called the Homeless World Cup. The Homeless World Cup uses the power of football to energize homeless people so they have the ability to change their own lives.
The organization coordinates with 70 National Partners who provide support and guidance in football and management skills in order to grow and develop programs which have a positive impact on the lives of homeless people. The National Partners run tournaments and trials to select the players who will play in the Homeless World Cup and focus on making sure they not only get the most out of the experience, but that they can continue to improve their lives after.
The idea for the tournament was first birthed in 2001 at a conference on homelessness dreamt up by Mel Young and Harald Schmied. The two believed that it was possible to change the lives of homeless people using football. Two years later, the first Homeless World Cup took place in Graz, Austria.
This year's tournament is taking place in Plaza de la Ciudadania in Santiago, Chile. Teams can be all male, all female or mixed, and the games consist of two halves that are seven minutes long. Each team has 8 players with 4 (3 plus a goalie) on the "pitch." The field is 22 by 16 meters with goals 4 meters wide. This year's field has 63 teams from 49 nations. Over 350 matches will be played. Friday marked the end of the Group Stage with the knockout stage starting Saturday.
The teams that have the most points currently are Chile, Denmark Brazil and Poland.
You can catch all the action live and learn about all of the participants' stories at their website. Here is a video from the Guardian showing the scene in Chile this past week.