The 2016 Homeless World Cup welcomed for the first time a team made up exclusively of refugees living in Scotland.
Homeless World Cup President and co-founder Mel Young explained: “This decision was inspired by the Olympics, which is allowed a team of refugees to participate under a neutral banner in Rio. Similar to this, the team walked under the Homeless World Cup flag for the opening parade.
“It allowed refugees who are stateless and excluded an opportunity to take part in an event which they are often unable to participate in, as a consequence of visa restrictions.”
The team was coached by Street Soccer Scotland’s programme coordinator for Glasgow, Robert Hare. “I deal with adults who are homeless, have been through the criminal justice system, have issues with addiction, long term unemployed, people who are maybe ostracised from society,” Robert explains. “We have a large intake of refugees so we created a team, an international team of refugees with no country to call their own just now, to take that place.”
The squad opened the tournament with three impressive wins, but faced tougher competition in the second round. The finished the tournament competing for the Men’s Bowl, where they were victorious in the quarter final, but failed to advance further. They ended the tournament in 20th place overall, a remarkable achievement for a a team who only began playing together in the week before the tournament.