Saturday, August 17, 2013

Homeless World Cup: Scotland face Poland

Scotland's chance of a third Homeless World Cup triumph slipped away in Poland yesterday.

A 6-0 defeat to Chile meant that a win over the Netherlands in the final group game wasn't enough to send the Scots through to the quarter finals and a place in the top eight of the 2013 tournament.

The 9-7 win over the Dutch was Scotland's third in Group C but that was only enough for third place behind Chile and Romania, who the Scots lost to on Wednesday.

Chile and Romania progress to the quarter finals of the Homeless World Cup while Scotland and the Netherlands head into the Polish President's Cup.

And today the hosts lie in wait with Scotland facing Poland for the first time in this year's tournament.

The Poles - whose best Homeless World Cup result came when they lost the final to Italy in Edinburgh back in 2005 - have won six of their 10 games so far this year and finished fourth in Group D behind Russia, Indonesia and Lithuania.

The hosts a special guest yesterday with Dariusz "Jackie" Dziekanowski, the former Poland - and Celtic - striker, among the spectators in Poznan:

"The tounament is demonstrating that everything is possible and things can be changed for the better. The Homeless World Cup is a fantastic initiative that I completely support.

"I'm very proud to be Polish and to be hosting such a great football event like this. I hope all the players will remember their time spent in this country with a smile in their faces."

Elsewhere today England face Finland in The INSP Trophy, Northern Ireland meet Slovenia in The Ministry of Labour Cup and Wales play France in The Cup of Tolerance.

Ireland remain potential opponents for Scotland in the Polish President's Cup, playing France in their quarter final.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Homeless World Cup: Scotland remain in contention

Scotland's 2013 Homeless World Cup team still have a chance of third title win as the tournament continues in Poznan.

On Tuesday wins over Argentina and Wales saw the Scots qualify behind Indonesia in Group G, joining 23 other teams in the group stages competing for the main Homeless World Cup trophy.

The Scots moved into Group C alongside last year's champions Chile, Romania, the Netherlands, Namibia and Denmark.

Recovering from an opening 7-4 defeat to Romania, Scotland secured back to back wins yesterday.

A tight game against Namibia was won 8-7 before Denmark were beaten 4-2.

That leaves Scotland with a strong chance of progressing from a very close group although they'll have to negotiate two tough fixtures today against an undefeated Chile team and a Dutch side with their own hopes of qualification.

The top two teams from Group C will qualify for the knockout stage of the Homeless World Cup trophy.

In today's other group games the Netherlands face Namibia, Romania and Chile both tackle Denmark and Romania round things off against Namibia.

While that scheduling might ultimately leave Scotland's fate out of their hands, two wins this afternoon would be a massive step towards qualification.

The knockout stage looks like being typically tough - Brazil, Mexico and Russia are all undefeated heading into the final round of group games.

While the players continue to inspire with their triumphs over adversity, the Homeless World Cup tournament thrives thanks to the tireless work of volunteers.

So a special mention to Mexican referee Antonio Gutierrez. An amateur official, Antonio got a taste of the tournament in Mexico City last year:

"I stayed in touch with the Hary Milas and Iain McGill, referees of Homeless World Cup in Mexico and they invited me to participate again this year. Last year was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life - I was eager to do it all again."

That meant making a sacrifice to pay his way:

"I sold my car to be able to be here, but for me this is the real job, the reason why I worked all the year!"
  • Scotland v Chile, 12.40pm UK time
  • Scotland v Netherlands, 3pm UK time
Watch all the 2013 Homeless World Cup games live on the tournament website

Homeless World Cup 2013 at the Scottish Football Blog

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Homeless World Cup: Scotland overpower India

Scotland and India at the 2013 Homeless World Cup

The group stage of an international football tournament. In the second half of a crucial match the referee awards a penalty to the side desperately looking for a way back in to the game.

But he's made the wrong call. And the manager of the team about to take the penalty has spotted the mistake.

He runs over to the referee and persuades him to reverse his decision.

It would never happen?

It would at the Homeless World Cup where Scotland yesterday bounced back from the loss of the opening goal to overcome India 8-1 while benefiting from the Indian manager's sense of fair play.

That result leaves Group G looking even tighter with Wales beating India on penalties after a 2-2 draw and Argentina remaining undefeated with a shootout win over favourites Indonesia after a 6-6 draw.

Indonesia recovered from that setback to beat Wales 12-2 in their afternoon fixture.

After day two, Indonesia - having played three games - top the group with seven points, Argentina lie second with five points and Scotland are third with three points after two games each.

All of which means today might be Group G's "moving day" and Scotland have two big games in store.

They play Argentina at 2pm (UK time) before finishing the day's play against Wales at 5.20pm.

Elsewhere yesterday England and Northern Ireland met in the first home nations clash of 2013 - with the debutants from Northern Ireland crusing to a 8-0 win.

That was as good as it got for Northern Ireland as they lost their next game 5-4 to Denmark while England's second outing had echoes of 1954 - a 7-1 defeat to Hungary.

In Group H, Ireland are second after losing on penalties to Russia after a 7-7 draw.

Team of the day yesterday might just have been the Philippines. They lost 6-1 to Austria and 8-5 to Slovenia but, having spent 24 hours travelling to Poland, they're not going to let defeats upset them too much.

Coached by Rudy del Rosario, a former captain of the Philippines national team, the players are living the Homeless World Cup experience to the full:

"More than football, these guys are having the time of their lives."

You can watch all today's games live on the Homeless World Cup website

Homeless World Cup 2013 at the Scottish Football Blog

Monday, August 12, 2013

Homeless World Cup: Scotland face India

Scotland's 2013 Homeless World Cup campaign started with a defeat in Poznan yesterday.

Opening up against Indonesia, Group G's top seeds, always looked a daunting prospect and so it proved as the Scots lost 6-4.

In a tight round of fixtures Argentina edged Wales 5-4 and Norway beat India 5-3. Scotland face India today - you can catch the game live on the Homeless World Cup website from 4pm UK time.

A bit of a tough day for the home nations yesterday - England lost their opening fixture 13-2 against Lithuania and Northern Ireland were beaten 6-1 by Hungary.

2013 is actually the first time all four home nations have been represented at the Homeless World Cup with Northern Ireland making their debut, the team drawn from street leagues in Belfast and Derry.

Finally being represented at the tournament is an achievement in itself and Northern Ireland's Sean O'Neill remained philosophical: "Have fun and you’ve won."

Today's football headlines are again infuriating - rich men and rich clubs arguing over transfer deals and money, quoting figures most of us can't comprehend.

Mel Young, the co-founder of the Homeless World Cup, counters that in his blog post about the tournament's opening ceremony which was hosted by Lech Poznan before their league match against Korona Kielce:
Sometimes the football industry receives a lot of bad press and deservedly so. Some parts of it seem elitist and greedy where the rich take all at the expense of the smaller players and where cheating or play-acting is encouraged in an atmosphere of win at all costs.

However, I really believe in the power of football and my experience of the football world is incredibly positive. Lech Poznan deserves huge praise for allowing the official opening of the Homeless World Cup to take place at their stadium yesterday. They didn’t have to do anything but they went out of their way to organise something which will be cherished by everyone involved.

Lech Poznan has shown how professional football clubs can put something back into the community and make a difference. Other clubs should follow their example. It gives the club genuine soul and an authenticity which is reflected in their fans who gave the Homeless World Cup teams such a fabulous welcome when they entered the stadium.

We shouldn’t have any homelessness in the world. We need to end it. The Homeless World Cup has proved that football has real power and we make genuine impact every day. But, we need to build on the momentum. Everyone has the ability to make a contribution and help change the world.

Lech Poznan has shown what is possible and other clubs should follow their example. I thank the Club and its supporters for their fabulous input. 
Homeless World Cup 2013 on the Scottish Football Blog

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Homeless World Cup 2013: Scotland kick off against Indonesia

Amid the bluster of the opening stages of the new season, it's easy to ignore an international tournament taking place in Poland.

A tournament where Scotland can create history by becoming the first team to lift the trophy three teams.

Homeless World Cup 2013 on Scottish Football Blog
The Homeless World Cup kicks off in Poznan today offering Scotland a rare shot at global glory and, far more importantly, changing lives while bringing attention to the worldwide scourge of homelessness and poverty.

In a unique street football arena next to Lake Malto, 64 teams of men and women from 50 countries will come together to celebrate the power of football and the work of the Homeless World Cup Foundation.

In 2012 the Homeless World Cup and its network of 70 national partners engaged with over 100,000 homeless people - 70% of them changed their lives in a significant way.

That can include beating addictions, finding work, securing housing, entering education or training, becoming social entrepreneurs or, in some cases, becoming football players or coaches.

Thanks to football. Much derided, much fretted over but still an incredibly powerful force for good.

There's still football to be played in Poznan though - 2013 is the eleventh Homeless World Cup tournament.

And Scotland's record is good: winners in Denmark in 2007 and France in 2011 and fourth in 2004, at home in 2005 and in 2008.

Homeless World Cup coverage on Scottish Football Blog

2013 sees in Group M with Argentina, India, Indonesia and Wales. At 17 in the pre tournament ranking we're a place behind Argentina while Indonesia's are ranked seventh after their thrilling fourth place in Mexico last year.

And we'll get the chance to test ourselves against Indonesia straight away - we play them in our first game this afternoon.

Ally Dawson, formerly of Rangers and Scotland, will once again manage Scotland's Homeless World Cup team:

"Scotland teams have always performed well in past Homeless World cup tournaments and we’re hoping that will continue this year too.

"We’ve won it twice in the last six years and the players are absolutely determined to try and become the first nation to win it for the third time."

But the eight players selected for Poland represent something much bigger at home: organisers Street Soccer Scotland now work with over 5000 socially disadvantaged people every year.

Glory next Sunday would be nice. But it's the work the Homeless World Cup and its partners do throughout the year that sets up the biggest victories for the players in Poland and many thousands others.

The Scotland team for 2013:

  • Aaron Shaw from Inverness
  • Thomas Park from Glasgow
  • David Clark from Glasgow
  • Thomas Kerr from Glasgow
  • Alexander Robertson from Glasgow
  • John Moore from Edinburgh
  • John Brash from Edinburgh
  • Declan Quinn from Edinburgh

Watch all the Homeless World Cup games live on the tournament website

Scotland v Indonesia kicks off around 1.45 pm UK time this afternoon.