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National partner profile: Bulgaria

Team of Hope (Sports Management Bulgaria)

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Sports Management Bulgaria run the Team of Hope project. They have been a Homeless World Cup Partner since August 2011.

More than 100 men and women with an average age of 22 join the project every year. They train twice a week under the guidance of four volunteer coaches. The participants come from the three largest Bulgarian cities – Sofia, Plovdiv, and Varna.

A large group of their participants are Refugees from Africa (particularly Mali and Eritrea) who suffer discrimination and social exclusion. One of the aims of the Team of Hope projects is to provide social integration through football.

In 2014, players took part in 15 tournaments in Sofia and one international tournament in Romania. Team members for the Homeless World Cup team are selected from among the participants of these tournaments.

Since their début at the Homeless World Cup, Team Bulgaria has been supported by some renowned Bulgarian individuals, and their list of ambassadors is imppressive: Dimitar Penev, one of the most successful football coaches in Bulgaria (2011), model Iveta Dimitrova and former national football player Georgi Yordanov (2012), 2012 European champion in 100 metres, Ivet Lalova, and His Excellency Mr Leszek Hensel, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland (2013), and actress Theodora Duhovnikova and writer Georgi Gospodinov (2014).

The 2015 Team of Hope is supported by His Excellency Mr Angel Cholakov, the Bulgarian ambassador to France and Monaco.

Player profiles & Stories

Mission statement

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Sport plays a major role in education, integration, and public health. Its merits have a great impact on society as a whole. Sport builds team spirit, friendships, willingness to sacrifice, self-control, and respect for others.

Sports Management Bulgaria aim to harness the power of sport beyond the limits of the pitch and utilise it as a tool for social change.

“Team of Hope” is definitely not a misnomer – according to their research, 70% of its participants return to education, find employment, and a home.

Goals for the future

Social Inclusion

To reach out to Roma people living in huts and illegal buildings

Health Education

To work with those suffering from substance abuse with the goal of ending their addiction

Additional information

Partner since

2011

Football Activities

Two training sessions each week, 10 tournaments a year

Team selection

Out of all the players, the manager and coach select the most promising participants according to personal development and footballing ability. They usually only select a men’s team, but a women’s team attended the Homeless World Cup in 2013.

Non-football services

Educational activities are offered including free language classes in Spanish, French, and other languages. They provide help with finding employment and connections with employers.

Participants challenges

Many participants are refugees, unemployed, or suffer from substance abuse.

Country challenges

Bulgaria receives large number of refugees, particularly from Africa.
Homelessness is also common among the large Roma community who in general suffer from discrimination, lack of adequate policies, and stigma, which affects their housing conditions. Many of them live in illegal houses with no electricity or running water (FEANTSA, 2014).

Homlessness definition

There is no official definition of homelessness in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Academy of Science proposed the following categories: obviously homeless (roofless or rough sleeping), hidden or concealed homeless (shared inadequate housing), potential homeless (with temporary shelter), active homeless (bankrupted people, roofless after a disaster), self-saving from homelessness (attempting to re-build), and particular homeless (homeless people with housing property of their own). (Sherbetova and Pisarka, 2010)

Homelessness Statistics

In September 2013, 1,370 people were registered as homeless, but real numbers are believed to be higher, especially among Roma and immigrants (Tilburg University). The number of people using soup kitchens and food banks went up by more than 50% to the current rate of 16,982 (September 2013), including more than 1,200 children  (Novinite, 2013).

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