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SA in Homeless Soccer World Cup


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The Soccer World Cup comes ion many forms and is not only for the privileged but for anyone with the talent and drive to make a success. The 2009 Homeless Soccer World Cup will be taking place in Italy with South Africa taking part. In this event the outcast and abandoned of society will have a chance to prove themselves on a world stage.

In the article below Philani Nombembe reports on, the transition form street kid to soccer glory, with the story of Collen Davids from the city of Cape Town. Use the navigation link to view articles on The City of Cape Town as well as business related articles.   

Street kids set for soccer glory

By: Philani Nombembe

From sleeping in the rough to jetting off to play in Italy

Collen Davids’s past is one of hard streets, glue-sniffing and begging for hand-outs from strangers. But his future is brighter — starting with his participation in the 2009 Homeless Soccer World Cup in Italy in two weeks’ time.

The 18-year-old former street child was introduced to soccer at a homeless shelter.

It helped change his life, and is set to give him the opportunity to represent his country — provided that the team can raise the funds they need to get to Italy.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m looking forward (to going to Italy),” said Davids, who has lived on the streets of Cape Town since he was 13 years old.

“I want to bring the trophy home. When I come back I want to go for trials in other teams because soccer is my passion.”

The seventh Homeless Soccer World Cup — featuring 48 teams — kicks off in Milan on September 6. The tournament uses football to “energise homeless people to change their own lives”.

South Africa first took part in the tournament in 2004, when it was held in Austria, and hosted the tournament in 2006, when its team came 18th. In Denmark in 2007, South Africa came 16th, and 25th in Australia last year.

Prospects are said to be brighter for this year’s tournament.

David Abrahams, the CEO of South African Homeless Street Soccer, an association affiliated to the Homeless Soccer World Cup , said: “We have a brilliant team this year.”

Soccer has already changed Davids’s life.

“One day I was begging on Long Street when security pounced on me and took me to a home for street children. I was introduced to soccer through the My Life soccer team and I went forward from there,” he said this week.

Davids, who left school in Grade 9, ended up on the street following a difficult relationship with his stepfather.

“When I was growing up I liked science, I actually wanted to be a scientist,” he said.

Another player looking forward to Italy is Martin Afrika.

Afrika, 32, who has spent 21 years of his life on the street or in prison, said he believed participating in the tournament would help him stay on the straight and narrow.

“I’ll try my best to bring that cup to South Africa and make the country proud before the 2010 World Cup. And when I come back I want to warn children about the street, guns, gangs and drugs,” he said.

This is Afrika’s second time to be selected for the team. He could not go last year, however, because, without a valid ID, he was unable to get a passport and visa.

Unfortunately, his hopes may be dashed this year as well, along with the rest of the team, as South African Homeless Street Soccer is struggling to secure funding to send the team to Italy.

“ Our previous funder, which was the City of Cape Town, has decided not to fund an event like that, it’s not a priority for them. We are struggling to find funding at the moment.

“We are trying whatever we can. Part of the problem is that people have a perception about homelessness; it’s not so sexy a thing to fund,” Abrahams said.

Lungelo Nokwaza, the City of Cape Town’s social development manager, said the city had stopped funding the team in order to fund a programme that would benefit more homeless people.

“We funded them in the last two financial years, but it was made quite clear last year that they were funded for the last time. They were advised to find funding from other sources ,” said Nokwaza.

Date Posted: 2009-08-24
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