24 August 2017

SEVENTY-TWO soccer teams will converge on Oslo next week as the 15th Homeless World Cup gets underway in the Norwegian capital. The opening ceremony is a royal occasion, as HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit will formally commence proceedings at the city’s iconic Rådhusplassen. This year, The Salvation Army is hosting the event as Official Partner in Norway. The international church and charity is also responsible for Norway’s national team.

Kicking off on 29 August 2017, 24 women’s teams and 48 men’s/mixed teams have been invited to compete, with 500+ players representing more than 50 countries from Argentina to Zimbabwe. It will be the biggest and most ambitious Homeless World Cup tournament yet. On the eve of the tournament, Oslo’s Mayor Marianne Borgen has invited 1200 players, coaches, staff and volunteers to a reception in Oslo City Hall.

The Salvation Army in Norway has been using football to reach out to different groups for more than 30 years. In 2005, The Salvation Army’s Gatefotball (Street Soccer) was officially established. Since then the initiative has expanded into many cities across the country, and an annual Norwegian Street Football Cup has been organised. Gatefotball focuses on drug rehabilitation for men and women through sport.

The Homeless World Cup Foundation works with a network of organisations representing 74 nations around the world. These partners vary in size and structure but they all have one thing in common: they all use the power of football to help people who are homeless and socially disadvantaged. Year-round street football programmes take place around the globe, and the national partners use these events to select the players who will represent their country at the Homeless World Cup tournament.

In addition to inspiring change in participants’ lives, The Homeless World Cup aspires to challenge public perceptions of homelessness and the issues that surround it. By showing the human side of homelessness, The Salvation Army and national partners aim to promote a more compassionate approach to helping those affected by it.

The opening game of the Oslo 2017 tournament will be played at 3.30pm on 29 August when the Norwegian women’s team faces Chile. The commencement of the men’s tournament follows, with Norway v Brazil promising to be a hard-fought match.

Tournament mascots in the guise of polar bears Catherine and William will watch these games with the Crown Princess, the Mayor, the Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie, Commissioner William Cochrane (Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army in Norway, Iceland and the Færoes) as well as guests, sponsors, players and supporters. The finals of the tournament will be played on Tuesday 5 September. Matches will be live-streamed at homelessworldcup.org.

Demonstrating the internationalism of the event, 28 Salvation Army officers from around the world will join forces with personnel from the host territory to be of assistance to the visiting teams. They will also staff a tournament church/prayer room within the arena. Their prayer is that the Oslo 2017 Homeless World Cup has a positive impact on both participants’ and spectators’ lives.

 

Tags: Europe, Events, Refugees in Europe