The Homeless Soccer World Cup

<![CDATA[Having a broken foot, I've been reading a lot and watching a lot of video.  Homelessness is one issue that is a particular special interest of mine.  I recently discovered the 2007 documentary Kicking It by Susan Koch and Jeff Werner.  The film chronicles the Homeless World Cup, played in Cape Town, South Africa at the same time of the 2006 World Cup.

Here’s the film’s description from the 2007 Sundance Film Festival site:

Using the global appeal of soccer to address the pandemic of homelessness, the Homeless World Cup was first established in 2001 to give homeless people the opportunity to better their lives through sports. Five years later, 20,000 homeless people had competed on street soccer teams, with 500 players selected to represent 48 countries in the fourth annual Homeless World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa, in the summer of 2006. Susan Koch’s Kicking It profiles seven of these players—men made invisible by poverty and addiction but who now emerge as compelling figures fighting to become heroes on the soccer pitch and find a way out of their situations.

The men journey from all around the globe, temporarily putting behind them Dublin’s heroin epidemic; Nairobi’s slums; Madrid’s overcrowded shelters; Charlotte, North Carolina’s streets; war-torn Kabul; and the stigma of homelessness in unforgiving St. Petersburg. Whether they are experiencing victory or defeat on the field, bonding with teammates, or flirting with groupies, soccer provides an escape from their problems while it also inspires hope for actual change in their lives.

Ultimately uplifting, though tempered by the sobering reality of its subjects’ vulnerable lives, Kicking It captures their humanity and ability to overcome adversity—all through the simple game of soccer.

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