Sunday, September 19, 2010

Spending the day at the Homeless World Cup

Luiz and I spent the day volunteering at the Homeless World Cup competition/celebration in Copacabana. Talk about spirit! The mostly young people involved in the competition were inspiring and bursting with enthusiasm and excitement.

Imagine having next to nothing in your home country (Haiti, South Africa, United States, Slovenia, England, Argentina, Ghana, Costa Rica – and on and on – there are about 60 countries represented) and now being in Rio de Janeiro putting on brand new soccer shoes donated by Nike, getting pumped to show your stuff. There are men’s teams and women’s teams. All the teams were smiling.

Luiz and I worked security at the entrance to the “Players Only” hospitality area. We struck up a few friendships and got to see all of the athletes. Luiz showed so much enthusiasm for the Palestinian team that one of the players gave him a beautiful shall made of kafia scarf cloth. Score!

These photos are from the Parade of Nations and the games. The Homeless World Cup continues through the week and we plan to return as often as possible to volunteer. If you have the itch, c’mon down. The games area is on the far east end of Copacabana Beach at the border with Leme. More volunteers would be helpful (and with a volunteer credential you get free reign of the place – with plenty of time to watch some matches.)

The official web site is being kept up to date. Check there for the schedule of who is playing whom and other information.


Danielle said...

It seems like you guys had a great day!

But I have to ask, because I'm so confused-- if the players are homeless, who paid for their plane tickets to Rio? Is that a stupid question?

Stephanie said...

That seems amazing! When i read your post about them needing volunteers, I wish I could have been there! I swear, if we stay here, we have got to move to a bigger city! Anyway glad you all got to participate! What an opportunity!

Jim said...

It's a good question Danielle. There is an interantional network of social service organizations that assist the poor, homeless, drug addicted, etc. that have adopted this strategy of using sports as a vehicle to help change people's lives and get them back on track. So it is these sponsoring organizations that recruit and work with the people in need, do the fundrasing to get them here (not all countries raised enough...) and then accompany the teams to the Cup.

I spoke with the American women's team coach and she told me there were programs in 26 cities across the States. They hold a national tournament, and then the coaches pick who from among all the participants get to go to the World Cup (based on performance, sportsmanship, impact, etc.)

It is a bit sad that all these visitors to Rio (who are all staying in Hostels (good and crappy) have no extra money to actually do any sight seeing aside from what they can walk to and do for free.

But they are having fun anyway.

Steph - participating has been fun. We're going back today.

lifeinrocinha said...

Jim it was nice to see you at the homeless world cup. I had the same question as Danielle. I asked some Canadians and they told me that they did all types of fundraising to get them there..I know Nike donated shoes for the players and other companes donated other things..

I will be going back again as I know what it is like to be homeless. But now I live in the favela which is a step up now I have a home.

See you soon!

Zezinho da Rocinha

Rachel said...

Do you know if you can volunteer part time? I only have 4 hrs free a day

Jim said...

Rachel - YES- no problem. Just show up, check in at the info/registration tent and tell them you have 4 hours to give. They will put you where they need you: serving food or water to athletes, carrying this or that to and fro, directing athletes coming off the pitches to enter or exit in the right direction, stand security at the gate to the athlete's only area, selling Tshirts, etc. It's easy and you can take breaks to watch some matches and talk with folks.