A team of ex-convicts and asylum seekers, all of whom have been homeless or in rehabilitation recently, successfully qualified for the annual Homeless World Cup last week.
Local politicians and celebrities attended the 4-a-side tournament. Long Hair Leung Kwok Hung, LegCo member, said that “it’s a chance for the homeless to develop a new experience with a new perspective”.
The games are set to take place in Chile in October – 19-20 participants are in the running and 8 will be selected
The global competition attracts 250,000 players from 70 nations.
First conceived by Scot Mel Young and Harald Schied, the fundraising event has been running for a decade, though it is the first time Hong Kong’s team has qualified.
“Life is like a match of football. Winning is a target, but not the result”, said Eddie Wan Yuen Hung, coach for the Hong Kong Homeless World Cup national team.
Participants said that the event transformed them both mentally and physically as it boosted their confidence and gave them an identity.
Players were not identified as ‘homeless people’ at the game, but as a representative for their country and a footballer.
Their website reports that over 70% of players go on to transform their lives for the better.
Follow the team on Facebook.