Yesterday I watched Mexico take on Brazil in a thrilling game of street football.
The match was played in Glasgow’s George Square as part of the 2016 Homeless World Cup. This annual event – which has attracted players from 52 countries – aims to “inspire homeless people to change their lives through the power of football.”
With teams of four on the pitch at any given time and each match lasting just 14 minutes, the pace is fast and furious. Should the match end in a draw, the winner is decided by a sudden-death penalty shoot-out. Men’s and women’s teams compete for separate cups; however, in an interesting twist, the rules allow women to play on the men’s teams too.
The tournament runs until Saturday 16 July. Entry to the three purpose-built outdoor pitches is free, tickets are not required and spectators can come and go as they please. So, watch just one match or stay the whole day. Go by yourself or take the kids. Rain or shine (it is Glasgow, after all), the Homeless World Cup is a brilliant initiative with a fun, friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
But as it says on the tee-shirt, for those taking part, “this game is real.”