The Homeless World Cup (HWC) is a world-class, international football tournament that uses football to end homelessness. Homeless players represent their country and change their lives forever. 80 nations, 50,000 players, 1 goal.
Focus: Sport, Homelessness, Housing, Communications/Media
Geographic Area of Impact: Global
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 50,000 (2011)
Annual Budget: US$ 3 million (2011)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 90%
Recognition: Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum
An estimated +1 billion people worldwide are homeless, 40% of which are under age 25, representing a costly social challenge. In New York, each homeless person costs the city about US$ 40,000 annually. The idea for the Homeless World Cup was inspired during the 2001 International Network of Street Papers Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. Mel Young and Harald Schmied recognized football as the international language capable of uniting homeless people around the world, and the HWC was born. Eighteen months later the Graz 2003 Homeless World Cup took place, uniting 18 nations.
Innovation and Activities
The Homeless World Cup has proven that sport is a tremendously powerful tool to create positive change in individuals, communities and countries on a global scale. It puts homeless people at the centre of the solution, empowering them to improve their situation and transform their lives. The feeling of belonging, the challenge of working as a team, regaining a healthy attitude towards physical and mental well-being, the recognition of self-esteem and enjoyment of fun engenders significant, lasting change in individual players.
The HWC uses football to energize homeless people to change their own lives. This is achieved with a world-class annual international football tournament uniting national teams of people without homes, and by initiating and supporting grassroots football programmes of homeless people throughout the year.
Since its phenomenal success in Graz, Austria in 2003, the global tournament has expanded. The Paris 2011 Homeless World Cup included 64 nations and the addition of the Women’s Homeless World Cup. This has now fostered grassroots football projects in over 80 nations, benefiting 50,000 players all year-round. In 2012 Mexico City will host the HWC before it travels to Poznan in 2013.
Follow-up research has consistently demonstrated unprecedented levels of impact, exemplified by the finding that two-thirds of players make significant changes in their lives. They give up drugs and alcohol, find jobs, finish their education, locate a home, pursue training and education, reunite with their families and become players, coaches and leaders in their communities. Supporters include UEFA, the United Nations, Nike, Telmex Foundation and global ambassadors Eric Cantona, Didier Drogba and Rio Ferdinand.
Mel Young is co-Founder of The Big Issue Scotland, a weekly street paper sold by homeless people in Scotland, and the International Network of Street Papers. He also co-founded SENSCOT (Social Entrepreneurs Network Scotland) and other publishing ventures. Young's entrepreneurial initiatives have ranged from leveraged non-profits to social businesses. All exemplify how the successful implementation of a simple idea can prove that homeless people are able to transform their lives through their own efforts. He passionately believes that by putting people at the centre of solutions, issues like homelessness and social exclusion can be resolved.