National partner profile: Sweden

Gatans Lag


Gatans Lag is a football organisation that uses football as a tool to beat homelessness, addiction, and other types of social exclusion through football. They create motivation and energy within the players for them to be able to change their own life situation.

Gatans Lag became members of the Swedish Football Association in September 2012. Today, they run football training sessions in five cities across Sweden. In 2015, they are hoping to expand to 10 cities.

The national ambassadors of Team Sweden are former national football player, 2012 FIFA World Coach of the Year, and current Sweden women’s national football team head coach, Pia Sundhage; and Henrik Larsson, a Swedish football legend and current manager of Helsingborgs IF.

By working with their ambassador Henrik Larsson and their sponsor Hyundai, they have created an impressive national profile that even included an advert on national TV during the 2014 Homeless World Cup.

Recruitment of players happens in shelters, rehab centres, prisons, and similar spaces. Gatans Lag pride themselves on the fact that that the only requirement for participants is not to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs during practice. Participants can choose to play without having to commit to a support programme. They believe that this emphasis on agency makes football a positive force in the lives of their players. Football helps create routines, build team spirit, encourage responsibility, and leads to better physical health and an extended social network; giving players the tools they need to succeed in other aspects of their lives.

Player profiles & Stories

Mission statement


Gatans Lag’s vision is to overcome homelessness, substance abuse, crime, and social exclusion through football. They achieve this by creating motivation and perseverance in the players themselves to change their living situation.

Motivation is the desire to change, and perseverance helps to implement that change.

Goals for the future

Capacity Expansion

To create a national league that includes a minimum of 10 cities and 1,000 players


To achieve closer relationships between the coaches and leaders in different cities

Programme Development

To have one motivational activity every month, in addition to regular football training sessions

Additional information

Football Activities

They offer a comprehensive range of football activities throughout the year, including weekly practice, cups, camps, retreats, wellness education, and participation in other tournaments.

Team selection

Gatans Lag picks the players who participated in the most training sessions and have shown the most commitment. They select both a men’s and a women’s team.

Non-football services

The organisation focuses exclusively on football but works closely with other organisations that provide specialist services, such as housing or access to education.

Participants challenges

Participants typically deal with substance abuse, criminality, and other types of social exclusion.

Country challenges

The proportion of homeless women has increased (especially those suffering domestic violence), as well as the proportion of homeless people born outside of Sweden (National Board of Health and Welfare, 2011). In 2012, the budget for supporting evicted families decreased, which is problematic since families with children are one of the most vulnerable groups. In 2010, 2,562 children were affected by applications for evictions, and statistics shows that evictions of families with children continue to increase (Women Rough Sleepers, 2012).

Homlessness definition

National counts of homeless people in Sweden take into account: Groups such as rough sleepers, hostel users, and individuals living in temporary supported accommodation, in institutions or prisons from which they are due to be released within three months; People staying temporarily with friends and family; People in institutions and treatment facilities who have no dwelling, but who are not due to be released soon (FEANTSA, 2008).

Homelessness Statistics

The 2011 count by the National Board of Health and Welfare identified 34,000 homeless people in Sweden. The count showed that overall homelessness had increased since 2005, but that fewer people were sleeping rough (National Board of Health and Welfare, 2011).

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