The 2015 tournament was the first time Grenada sent a team to compete at the Homeless World Cup. Lyndon Rennie, age 27, was one of the eight lucky young men selected for the Grenadian squad. This was not only Lyndon’s first time in Amsterdam, it was his first time out of Grenada.
Lyndon comes from the small town of Paradise, in St Andrew’s Parish, located at the east of the island. “It’s beautiful,” said Lyndon. “The weather, the people, the beach and the sea. It’s beautiful.” While Grenada’s tourism industry is thriving, the island’s small size and its exposure to natural disasters are factors contributing to poverty, especially among the rural population. Unemployment is particularly high for young people, who are often unable to complete their schooling or find employment.
Lyndon became involved with the Jason Roberts Foundation less than a year ago, though he has been playing football for most of his life. “I heard about the trials in one of our community centres in St Andrews, and I decided to join.” The players that formed the Grenadian squad were selected among many hopeful participants. The selection process was not only based on football skills, but on behavior and personal development plan.
The training was very intense, recalled Lyndon. “It was really hard, in very hot weather. It was difficult because we were learning new rules to the game.” The team, who trained together for five months before the tournament, underwent rigorous physical and emotional conditioning. It was all worth it; the team made it to the final of the SportsGen Cup.
“Amsterdam has been wonderful,” said Lyndon smiling. “It’s a good feeling being here, there is so much love from the people around. All the players here are homeless, and this feels like a way out of that. There is a form of unity from all of us. It’s a wonderful experience.”
Lyndon hopes that his involvement with the Grenadian squad will not end with Amsterdam. “When I get back, I hope I can get involved with the programme, and maybe become a coach for next year’s team. I’m going to spread the word about the experience and how great it is to be here, I hope many more men in Grenada will get this opportunity.”
Every victory and loss helped him and his team become closer and more focused towards improving their lives once they return home. He wasn’t ready to leave Amsterdam at the end of the tournament, but at the same time he confessed to be very excited to returning home to his three-year-old daughter, who has been cheering for the squad from Grenada.
The Grenadian team received the award for Best Newcomers from their peers on the final night of the tournament.
by Mariana Mercado
Photography by Alex Walker