"Football is a poem that beats in the heart of those who play it, a universal language experienced by so many and potentially a cause of great change."

21 January 2008

"Football is a poem that beats in the heart of those who play it, a universal language experienced by so many and potentially a cause of great change."

This Saturday, Kicking It, the documentary about the story of the Homeless World Cup, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Narrated by Colin Farrell, the film chronicles the lives of seven players taking a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent their country at the Cape Town 2006 Homeless World Cup. Najib from war torn Afghanistan; Alex from the slums of Kenya; Damien and Simon from the drug rehab clinics of Dublin, Ireland; Craig from the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina; Jesus from the overflowing public shelters of Madrid, Spain, and Slavan from the shadow culture of the illegal rural immigrants to the big city of St. Petersburg, Russia.

Colin Farrell was up for a chat with Kat Byles, Media Director, Homeless World Cup, about his thoughts on the film, homelessness and football. Warm, disarmingly open and honest, with a genuine concern for the players and the global issue of homelessness, these are his football poet laureate words that he had to share:

What moved you to be part of Kicking it?
I was shown the documentary and it's undeniably moving. It represents a truth on the screen and anyone open enough will see elements of themselves in the players. It has every emotion - hope, fear, love, strength, generosity - every emotion that we feel as people. So I wanted to be involved for selfish reasons, I think its an important story that needs to be told. Just the opening screen - one billion people are homeless without access to a basic human need - that is shocking, that's a sixth of the population.

And the part of the movie that stays with you the most?
I'm moved by Najib's innocence, it's a beautiful innocence, by his strength and acceptance of the amount of pain and loss in his life. And yet he has a hope, a belief that the universe will conspire to help him.  And of course by Simon's loss of life. You get to know the players, you have a relationship with them and get close to them.  His loss is heart-breaking as he looks like one of the strongest, and as he said he had paid his price.

What do you think to the Ireland boys in the film?
You swell with pride. When you see them coming out at half time on to the pitch for the Ireland game against Holland, you just swell with pride.

And your own experience of football?
I played football until I was 15 but I wasn't as good as I thought I was (laughing) and I then I discovered girls and going out and the like. My Dad and Uncle both played for Shamrock Rovers. They told me I wasn't hungry enough. They were right, I thought I wanted to be a footballer but I can't have wanted it enough.

Now when I play, if you chucked a football in here right now, then I'd get giddy, i'd be running round the room. It puts me back to a time in life when everything was more simple. When there was a sense of community. You know it was great, you would get your tee shirt off to make the goal and you just run around having a game, I loved it.

What football team do you support?
I don't have team. My Dad always told me - support the game not an individual team, which is a stupid thing to tell a 10 year old, and by the time I realised my Dad was wrong who was I supposed to support. Liverpool because they win? Grimsby Town? No.

Where shall we have the next Homeless World Cup?
Fiji. No, really it has to go to Dublin.

What message would you like to send to the players?
Keep doing what you are doing. Keep on reaching.

Colin Farrell on Kicking It:

“Is a roof over one’s head, a place to call home, a sense of belonging and community a lot to ask? These basic human rights are a mere dream to over 1 billion homeless men and women of our planet. Too many of our own live on the fringes of acceptance, exist beyond the boundaries of societal respect, they are not without hope, often without help. The documentary KICKING IT doesn't just imagine but presents and makes real a world where many of society’s lost children are re-finding themselves through sport. Through the simple and beautiful game of football the complex struggle to find meaning and purpose in life is being won by over 20 thousand homeless people all over the world. Football is a poem that beats in the heart of those who play it, a universal language experienced by so many and potentially a cause of great change. KICKING IT is a call to the possibility of this change. It is now our turn to listen and act. I am humbly honored to be part of not only this project, but its message which is more important than most of us can imagine.” —Colin Farrell

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