The Street Children’s World Cup is one of my favorite programs currently working to solve the problems related to homelessness, poverty, gender, and family in some of the most deserving and simultaneously undeserved communities in the world.
Over 230 children from 19 countries will participate in a girls’ and a boys’ football tournament, a festival of arts and a participatory conference for children’s rights. We believe that no child should have to live on the streets.
After being picked up from the streets, given education, and put through six months of rigorous football practice, on Wednesday night, nine children from Karunalaya, an organisation that works for child rights, flew to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, to represent India at the Street Child World Cup (SCWC).The team of nine children, rehabilitated at Karunalaya after escaping abusive backgrounds, left for Rio De Janeiro on Wednesday. They will represent the country at the Street Child World Cup — Photo: G. Krishnaswamy
In this second edition of the world cup, scheduled to take place from March 28 to April 7, these children will fight it out against 15 other teams of boys from 18 countries.
Sixteen-year-old T. Gopinath, trying hard to control his emotions, says, “This is unthinkable for all of us. Our focus now is to come back with the cup and make everyone proud.”
Paul Sunder Singh, secretary of Karunalaya, said, “The last six months has been quite hectic and tiring for these children. They had an emotional farewell when they left our Karunalaya home this evening.”
If you have not heard of the ‘Street Child World Cup’ it is an orginization that hosts formerly homeless children in international soccer competition:
The Street Child World Cup is a global movement for street children to receive the protection and opportunities that all children are entitled to. Ahead of each FIFA World Cup, they unite street children from across five continents to play football and unite in a unique international conference. Together through football, art and campaigning their aim is to challenge the negative perceptions and treatment of street children around the world.
The first Street Child World Cup was held in Durban, South Africa, in March 2010 The event brought together teams of street children and former street children from Brazil, South Africa, Nicaragua, Ukraine, India, the Philippines and Tanzania. The participants were between 14 and 16 years old at the time of the event and all had experience of living full time on the streets without family. Each squad of 9 players included 3 girls. A representative team of young people from Manchester, UK, also took part in the tournament. This team was mentored by UK children’s TV presenter Andy Akinwolere, and his journey was covered on the BBC Children’s TV show, Blue Peter.