Friday, August 26, 2011

Homeless World Cup: A Scottish Football Success Story

One group of well paid men get beaten by another. We wail about the injustice of our well paid men not being paid as much as other groups of well paid men. Even though there’s a group of men who aren’t paid as much as our well paid men doing away just fine over there.

Such is the world of Scottish football, a sport dreamed of on the playing fields from Dumfries to Shetland but ripped asunder on the green, green grass of Slovenia and Switzerland.

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message Fitba Is Deid

It’s not.

It needs a lot of remedial work . The downward spiral has been unchecked too long. Professional football need to re-engage, enthuse, reconnect.

Still a big part of our lives though, our history, our culture, our society.

And it can still inspire, make a difference. Change lives.

It’s happening right now. In Paris, a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower.

The Homeless World Cup. 48 teams. One goal: to change lives through football.

Scotland are there, representing this nation where the hysterical talk of turning their backs on the game. There and on form.

Two defeats in the opening two group stages sees them in the quarter finals. There they’ll face Ukraine, winners of their second round group while the Scots could only finish runners up behind reigning champions Brazil.

Scotland managed four wins from their five second round games, scoring 33 goals while Ukraine’s four wins in a much tighter group brought only 26 goals. In a tournament where there is a premium on high scoring Scotland should fancy their chances.

Not that it’s all about winning.

It’s about players like Deradjat Ginandjar Koesmayadi from Indonesia:

“This is beyond a dream. It’s hard in my country for people like me. I’m criminalised for my lifestyle. Here, I can represent my country. And it’s not just about football. It’s about what we can change through football.”

Or Jeffrey Guelas of Philippines:

“Every time I play I see people surrounding me. We feel so happy to have this support and that we are carrying the fight of our nation in such a fantastic atmosphere.”

Football changing lives. Without rancour.

And Scotland are doing well. Doing more than just playing well: giving the Homeless World Cup its founder, Mel Young, and a base at Easter Road.

It’s football and it’s something to be proud of. Who’d have thought it as the recriminations flew last night.

Follow the tournament - and donate - on the Homeless World Cup website

Quarter Finals

All 48 men’s teams remain involved throughout but the quarter final draw for the Homeless World Cup trophy is:

Nigeria v Mexico
Kenya v Chile
Brazil v Indonesia
Ukraine v Scotland

Women’s Homeless World Cup

In their debut tournament the Scottish women’s team overcame a tricky start to progress to the quarter finals and a clash with Brazil.

2-1 ahead at half time Scotland held out thanks to goalkeeper Faye Logan before conceding the equaliser that took the game to penalties.

Alas it was the Brazilians who triumphed in the shoot-out.

A fine effort from Scotland though especially when set against those early losses.