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National partner profile: Hong Kong

Wofoo and Soco

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The national homeless team of Hong Kong was established in 2005 by a group of social workers, soccer coaches, and social entrepreneurs from Society of Community Organization & Wofoo Social Enterprises of Hong Kong. The two organisations run football training and coaching sessions, the annual selection tournament, the Hong Kong Street Soccer League, and regular fundraising events for the homeless team which represents Hong Kong in the Homeless World Cup.

The Hong Kong homeless team and their projects are getting increasing support from different social services, First Division football clubs, government officials, and business communities. Wofoo and Soco have been organising annual fundraising tournaments since 2006 in order to cover the costs for training and travelling expenses of the national homeless team. Besides fundraising, the tournament’s main role is to gain public support, raise awareness about homelessness, and particularly to improve players’ self-image and self-esteem.

The selection tournament is open to all organisations working with homeless and socially excluded people. In the preliminary round, there are groups of four teams that have a chance to advance to the quarter final and further. Individual players are selected from among all participating teams and are offered a four-month training programme. The programme includes two weekly training sessions and an adventure-based training camp. A designated social worker works closely with players and helps them cope with emotional and social problems. Players are also encouraged to volunteer – providing social services to other socially disadvantaged people. After the end of the programme, the players that will represent Hong Kong at the Homeless World cup are selected through an interview process.

Their statistics show that more than 90% of the players improved their lives after participating in the Homeless World Cup. They were more motivated and better prepared to find jobs and new homes, and distanced themselves from undesirable social behaviour like substance abuse, heavy gambling, and smoking. The majority of them also re-established the links with their families.

Player profiles & Stories

Mission statement

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Wofoo Social Enterprises & Society for Community Organization work to help socially excluded men and women. They use sports and other services as the tools for social inclusion and change.

Sport brings back pride, dignity and self-respect, qualities that are often taken away from so many vulnerable people.

Goals for the future

Women's Programmes

To launch girls’ football project and to send a women’s team to the Homeless World Cup

Additional information

Partner since

2005

Football Activities

Football training twice a week, adventure camp, and selection and fundraising tournaments

Team selection

The process starts with a selection tournament, on the basis of which several teams are formed. The final men’s team is selected through a selection interview.

Non-football services

The organization provides access to education and support through designated social workers who help participants manage and overcome their social and emotional problems.

Participants challenges

Lack of affordable housing and broken family links

Country challenges

One in five people in Hong Kong live in poverty. Hong Kong has one of the widest income disparities in the world. High rents and property prices have hit the poor the hardest. Homeless people are often subject to harassment by the police (City University of Hong Kong).

Homlessness definition

The government only counts rough sleepers (those who have no shelter) as homeless. Different NGOs and academics are pushing for a broader definition (City University of Hong Kong).

Homelessness Statistics

About 40% of the population lives in subsidised housing. Around 100,000 live in “coffin homes,” “cage homes” and on rooftops (Feeding Hong Kong, The Global Mail, 2013). An estimated 1,400 homeless people live in Hong Kong, with the primary cause being a lack of affordable housing (City University of Hong Kong, 2014).

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