National partner profile: Portugal

Futebol de Rua


CAIS Association was founded in 1994 to support people suffering extreme poverty and social exclusion, notably those who are homeless, so they can regain independence and control of their lives. With 18 years of experience, CAIS distinguishes itself today through a unique and pioneering mission of inclusion and intervention.

Futebol de Rua (Street Football) is the football-based programme run by CAIS Association. The team put together by the project first participated in the Homeless World Cup in 2004, and today Futebol de Rua is a nationwide project with a range of different activities.

Team Portugal has been supported by Pauleta, Abel Xavier, and João Vieira Pinto (former Portuguese national players) who were the team’s national ambassadors in 2009, 2010, and 2013, respectively. In 2014, the team was supported by the former Portuguese national and SL Benfica player Nuno Gomes through their partnership with SL Benfica Foundation.

Futebol de Rua organise an extensive national tournament programme. The preliminary stage of the tournament consists of local tournaments promoted by affiliated organisations across the country. Each local winning team represents their district in the “Grand Final” of the national tournament. At the Grand Final, the winning teams from each district come together for a fun, five-day event that includes football games, as well as cultural and recreational activities. There are also workshops that help to develop personal and social skills.

From the Grand Final group, teams are selected for participation in international tournaments, including the Homeless World Cup. Before representing Portugal abroad, these teams complete a training camp that includes cultural and social activities and workshops. Every year, the national tournament programme reaches up to 1,000 participants and around 100 social workers and coaches all over the country. The Grand Final includes around 200 participants.

In addition to the national tournament programme, CAIS run two other football-related initiatives. Their “MOVE” sessions provide recreational activity for homeless and marginalised people throughout the Lisbon district. Their goal is to create an informal and welcoming environment that allows vulnerable participants to develop social and life skills.

“Move Yourself, Make It Happen” is a national initiative in association with the National Plan for Ethics in Sports and Youth in Action programme. Through a series of workshops delivered by CAIS partners, it contributes to the professional development of social workers and coaches, and the personal and social skills of homeless and marginalised people. All participating organisations are required to promote regular football training sessions in combination with other personal development, educational, and employment activities in order to make a sustainable change in participants’ lives. CAIS believe that football can only be effective and its effects sustainable when integrated with other initiatives.

Player profiles & Stories

Mission statement


CAIS Association’s project Futebol de Rua aims to promote inclusion and integration through football. In order to empower players for life, the positive effects of football are supported by a range of other activities and workshops, including personal development and job skills.

With 18 years of experience, CAIS distinguishes itself today through a unique and pioneering mission of inclusion and intervention.

Goals for the future

Capacity Expansion

To expand to all districts of Portugal and increase the number of participating NGOs and participants in every district

Women's Programmes

To increase women’s participation

Programme Development

To expand the workshops initiative “Move Yourself, Make It Happen,” which provides professional development to staff and personal development to players, and to enhance their monitoring and evaluation system

Additional information

Partner since


Football Activities

They organise and coordinate local and national tournaments, up to three training sessions each week, training camps, and participation in other international tournaments.

Team selection

The Homeless World Cup team is selected at the National tournament. Portugal usually only select a men’s team

Non-football services

CAIS provide employment activities, personal and social skills training sessions, legal support, access to medical care, employment in their car washing and recycling social enterprises, informal educational workshops and integration into the standard schooling system

Participants challenges

Participants usually deal with poverty, and many are immigrants.

Country challenges

The economic crisis has been identified as the major cause for increased homelessness in the past five years. While unemployment has been rising, benefits have been severely cut as a part of austerity measures (Revolting Europe, 2013).

Homlessness definition

“A homeless person is considered to be an individual who, regardless of nationality, age, sex, socio-economic status and mental and physical health, is roofless, living in a public space or insecure form of shelter, or accommodated in an emergency shelter, or is houseless and living in temporary accommodation for homeless people.” (National Strategy for the Integration of Homeless People, 2010).

Homelessness Statistics

Most homeless people live in metropolitan areas such as Lisbon and Porto. Estimates in 2010 placed the homeless population at 3,000 people, but there is a lack of systematic statistics (FEANTSA, 2012).
Since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008, the number of homeless people has risen by 30% (Portugal News Online, 2011).

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