We’re excited to announce that we’re sending a team to the Homeless World Cup.
Seven players from our Community Street Soccer Program will represent Australia at the tournament in Poznan, Poland, from August 10-18. The team, known as the Street Socceroos, will compete against teams from 64 countries at the 11th annual event.
The tournament uses football to raise awareness of homelessness and help participants overcome challenges in their lives.
“The Homeless World Cup brings together people from all walks of life in the spirit of friendship, social inclusion and fair play,” The Big Issue CEO Steven Persson said.
“It is an incredible opportunity for men and women experiencing homelessness and disadvantage to represent their country at an international sporting event.”
The Australian team was selected from hundreds of people involved in our Community Street Soccer Program – a national grassroots initiative that uses football to help participants reconnect with community and turn their lives around.
Meet the Street Socceroos:
Rok - Melbourne
Rok is a young refugee from Southern Sudan who hails from the Dandenong Community Street Soccer Program in Melbourne. The Dandenong program is popular among refugees and Rok is considered a leader at both the Community Street Soccer Program and within his community.
Eric - Brisbane
Eric is an avid sports fan, with a love for both soccer and rugby. He took part in the Street to Home Program, which is an initiative aimed at helping people who are sleeping rough or experiencing chronic homelessness to move into long term housing. As well as playing weekly with the Brisbane Community Street Soccer Program, Eric is also studying Indigenous art.
Adam - Sydney
Adam is the goalkeeper from the Community Street Soccer Program in Sydney. He joined the program more than two years ago after seeing participants play in The Big Issue’s Street Football Festival at Darling Harbour. Having lived on the streets and in hostels, Adam says playing soccer has provided support during the “ups and downs”. “It allows you to meet new people and it gives you support.”
Matthew - Newcastle
Matthew has been a regular at the Newcastle Community Street Soccer Program since 2011. He is a keen follower of football around the world and was among a handful of players selected to represent NSW at the Community Street Soccer Program National Championships this year. Despite battling mental health issues, Matthew has shown outstanding commitment to the program and will be an integral member of the Street Socceroos.
Bernard - Ballarat
Bernard joined the Ballarat Community Street Soccer Program three years ago. He has represented his team at both state competitions and at the Community Street Soccer Program National Championships in Sydney.
Geoff – Adelaide
Geoff was homeless and suffering from depression when he joined the Adelaide Community Street Soccer Program three years ago. He attributes the program to helping turn his life around. “It got my confidence back and it got me talking to people,” Geoff says. Now in permanent housing, Geoff has become a mentor and role model to other participants in the program and says he is thrilled to have the opportunity to represent Australia at the Homeless World Cup.
Susana – Melbourne
Susana has trained with the North Melbourne Women’s Community Street Soccer Program for almost three years. Having experienced mental illness and homelessness, the program has given Susana the opportunity to meet other women and reconnect with the community. She is also involved in The Big Issue’s Women’s Subscription Enterprise, which provides employment to vulnerable women through the sale of Subscriptions to The Big Issue magazine.
Congratulations to all our players. A special send-off will be held for them in Sydney on August 8. Stay tuned for updates on the Street Socceroos here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also find out more about the Homeless World Cup here.
We wish the team the best of luck!