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National partner profile: Costa Rica

Asociacion Escuchando Gente Sin Hogar

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Asociación Escuchando Gente Sin Hogar is a non-profit organisation, established in 2008. It helps change lives of people recovering from substance abuse, homeless people, including immigrants, and street paper vendors, through football.

Their national ambassadors are Costa Rican football legends Róger Flores and Hernán Medford, who sometimes help with training sessions.

They have organised a national championship every year since 2008. The championship lasts five months and in the end, the national team to represent Costa Rica at the Homeless World Cup is selected. They also want to make their first micro company with homeless players, which will be of great help for those who do not have a job.  They will begin an education programme in order to let the participants finish their studies or at least to start them. Finally, their program will be developed all around the country and for the first time there will be women playing too.

The association is recognised and supported by national sports organizations like Costa Rican Sports and Recreation Institute (ICODER) and Comité cantonal de deportes de San Jose.

Costa Rican homeless team won the American Street Football Cup in Argentina in 2012.

Player profiles & Stories

Mission statement

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Asociación Escuchado Gente Sin Hogar aim to change the lives of homeless people and people recovering from substance abuse through football. They hope that organising  Street Football championships will help fight against violence and drugs in Costa Rica. Their slogan is: “A ball can change your life!”

Some of the participants feel lost and hopeless before getting involved in street football, but the programme helps them overcome their problems and smile once again.

Goals for the future

Tournaments

To run a championship with teams or players from all over the country

Women's Programmes

To take a women’s team to the next Homeless World Cup

Health Education

To encourage players to stop taking different substances, lose weight, and become good players

Social Inclusion

To find as many players as possible to bring them out of the street and help them find a job or to study; also, to invite the former players to participate during the national tournaments

Additional information

Partner since

2008

Football Activities

Football sessions on weekends, running a national league

Team selection

The national team is selected by winning  the national league that lasts five months.

Non-football services

Finding institutes that can offer homeless people scholarships, education, English courses, computer skills etc.

Participants challenges

Substance abuse, domestic violence

Country challenges

Costa Rica’s poverty rate of 20-25% has remained the same for nearly 20 years. The country has the unemployment rate of 7.9% (World Vision, 2014). One of the biggest issues related to the problem of homelessness in Costa Rica is substance abuse, especially among the youth. Being located between Colombia's cocaine production facilities and Mexico's drug trafficking conduits, Costa Rica is increasingly struggling with drug cartels and rising addictions (Narconon).

Homelessness Statistics

The municipality of San José estimates that more than 1,800 people are homeless. According to the official statistics, around 5,300 families lived in slums in 2009. In 2009, the earthquake left many families homeless and natural disasters pose a serious threat in terms of losing home (Habitat Costa Rica, 2010; The Tico Times, 2014).

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