Rio embraces homeless event

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While the world stands to attention for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Brazil and the City of Rio are preparing for the 8th Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup.

From 19–26 September 2010, 64 national teams of homeless players, including 16 women's teams will be united on Copacabana Beach, Brazil for the week long, annual football tournament beating homelessness globally. The first tournament took place in Graz during 2003 uniting 18 national teams. Five years on and the tournament had grown significantly to unite 56 nations at the Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup (pictured above), which included the first Women's Cup and a $3m legacy of 30 street football programmes to address homelessness across Australia. The Homeless World Cup is pioneering a radical level of change not seen before. Seventy–three percent of players change their lives for the better by coming off drugs and alcohol, moving into jobs, education, homes, training, reuniting with families and even going on to become players and coaches and set up social enterprises enabling other homeless people to change their situation. Now, in 2010, over 30, 000 homeless players around the world are aiming for the chance to stand proud and represent their country on the global stage in Rio. A street football stadium with three pitches holding a crowd of 5, 000 will be built on Copacabana Beach with the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain as the remarkable, iconic backdrop. Erhard Sports International is the official court supplier and Greenfields is the official pitch supplier partnering with the Homeless World Cup to donate three pitches and courts to homeless projects in Rio and Sao Paolo as a legacy that aims to take the benefits of football to the socially excluded and forgotten people of Brazil. Mel Young, president, Homeless World Cup, said: " We have tremendous respect for Brazil and the City of Rio for taking positive steps to address poverty and serious social issues with football, a sport in which they lead the world. The Homeless World cup is an opportunity for homeless people to move from the invisible margins to the center of Rio and stand proud on a global stage, true ambassadors for their country. It is an opportunity for Brazil to inspire new grass roots football projects across the nation and across the world to reach more homeless people with the benefits of football. It is an opportunity to light up the hearts and minds of everyone it touches to change perceptions of homeless people and create fresh approaches to end homelessness. If we all do one thing, however small, together we can create a wave of change and end homelessness for good. "Over 150, 000 fans around the world are expected to tune in to follow the event at homelessworldcup. org. They will be joined by Homeless World Cup supporters, which include UEFA, United Nations, Nike, Vodafone Foundation, Global Ambassador Eric Cantona and international footballers Didier Drogba, Rio Ferdinand, Marco Materazzi and Luis Figo. "Everybody needs to wake up in the morning with a goal. The Homeless World Cup brings this opportunity–to go into training, to change your life, " said Eric Cantona, global ambassador. Didier Drogba, Chelsea Football Club added: "The Homeless World Cup can change the life of anyone, not simply to help them become a professional footballer, but so that they can develop values, human values, which I think is very important. " Michelle da Silva, played for Brazil at the Copenhagen 2007 Homeless world Cup and is now a global ambassador for the Homeless World Cup. Born in 1990 into the City of God favela she has lived her life for football and is on a courageous journey out of poverty and exclusion through sport. She now plays for Brazil's women's under 20's national team and is one of the players selected for the 2010 South America Cup. She said: "The Homeless World Cup is about a major life experience. You create friendships and set the right attitude to succeed in your life and in football. "David Duke played for Scotland at the Gothenburg 2004 Homeless World Cup when he was homeless battling issues with alcohol following the death of his father. It got him back into football and he decided he wanted to pursue a career in football coaching completing his Scottish Football Association coaching badges to become a certified youth coach. Duke rose to become manager and take Team Scotland to victory at the Copenhagen 2007 Homeless World Cup. Duke, also a global ambassador for the Homeless World Cup, is now a budding social entrepreneur having set up Street Soccer Scotland to use football to help homeless people in Scotland. His organisation is already working with 500 homeless people providing weekly coaching sessions, an academy providing essential life skills, a Scottish Homeless Cup and a national league due to begin in late 2010. Duke said: "The Homeless World Cup was the rope that allowed me to pull myself out of a very dark hole. It helped me and now I can help others. When homeless people say to me I can't change, I say yes you can. I did. So can you. " The Homeless World Cup is currently looking to recruit an event manager. Interested parties should please contact Mel Young, president, Homeless World Cup on mel@homelessworldcup. org. For more information visit: www. homelessworldcup. org

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