28 teams, 25 countries, 10 days, and 1 football tournament can change the future for so many.
On the 5th October 2022, Eloise Phillips and I flew out to Doha, Qatar to volunteer and support Street Child United’s fourth edition of their own World Cup. What followed over the next 10 days was a truly memorable experience. It was inspiring to meet so many wonderful young people, with so much hope and ambition for the future, regardless of the challenges they have faced in life.
For over 10 years, SCU has been organising sporting events coinciding with major sporting occasions, such as the FIFA World Cup, the ICC Cricket World Cup and the Olympics. The events put a global spotlight on children living in street situations through worldwide media coverage. They encourage countries, communities, and governments around the world to listen and act, specifically aiming to reach country leaders who can affect legislation to make change happen. Eton Bridge Partners are proud to have sponsored Street Child United since 2019 and this was the first year EBP are an official partner of their flagship event Street Child Football World Cup, extending the support with the help of two volunteers from the business.
We are the voice of the voiceless
It was inspiring to meet so many wonderful young people, with so much hope and ambition for the future. Regardless of the challenges they have faced in life, all the children came together to share their views.
Despite the colour, gender and language we speak, we are all united and one team.
The SCWC 2022 in Doha, Qatar from 5th – 15th October brought together 28 teams representing 25 countries for a football tournament, a festival of arts and a child–friendly congress. The event created a platform for the participating young people to stand up for their rights including: the right for legal identity; the right to protection from violence; the right to access education and the right for gender equality.
Through this Street Kids World Cup, I hope to see a change in these young people, that they become leaders in their communities. They have to believe in themselves and believe that they are somebody. They also have to believe that no matter what others think of them, they just have to persevere to achieve their dreams
Said Saldock John, a young leader from Tanzania. Saldock has been able to change his future and get off the streets thanks to Street Child United and is now an entrepreneur and business owner.
Let the games begin
During the tournament, 28 teams played 76 games and aged between 13 to 18. Despite the humidity, the friendly atmosphere of the Street Child World Cup was very much still in place, but it was clear what the games meant to the players. They were all there to win, and the vast majority of matches were fiercely competitive. The mutual respect displayed during the post-match handshakes was a testament to the spirit of the event. Throughout the games, the noise and energy which has characterised this year’s event, kept spirits lifted for all teams, especially during the football finals.
For the boys, Pakistan and Egypt boys played out a hugely physical final with the penalty shootout deciding the winners and it was Egypt who held their nerve with a brilliant save to win the match. Then came the girls’ final between Brazil and Columbia. Again, both teams fought for the trophy, Colombia was determined and resolute, but couldn’t quite keep up with the pace and quality of the Brazil girls. Brazil girls made it their third Street Child World Cup trophy in a row, running out comfortable 4-0 winners.
Once the celebrations subsided, it was heart-warming to see sportsmanship prevail and winners console losers.
With 13 girls’ teams participating, SCWC was the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of gender inequality faced by girls worldwide based on their gender. Congratulations to Aya from Palestine who scored the first goal of the tournament! Read her story here.
Football is about partnership and friendship, and resilience. They are leaders of their own community and street children, and they are a leading example of the younger teams of breaking stereotypes and gender inequality.
Team Mexico girls
The importance of health
Health and access to healthcare are important issues for most people; for children living in street situations, they are critical. Street-connected children often do not have the resources, support or funding to access adequate healthcare, resulting in a significantly increased risk of major health problems.
In the build-up to the Street Child World Cup 2022, the charity has been continually supported by WISH who have prioritised the conversation and promoted the issue of health for young people. SCU launched a review of existing literature at the World Innovation Summit for Health with input from SCU team leaders on the health concerns and risks to health for street children worldwide. The review addressed health-seeking behaviours and barriers to accessing healthcare and was further developed over the course of the World Cup through interviews with children from each participating team.
Think globally and act locally to create a better life for everyone.
The power of art
Street Child United used the power of art to bring all 28 teams together throughout the tournament/ event, to give them an opportunity to create a variety of cultural displays including performances from each team during the late shows, recreation of their flags, and a multi-layered collage, focusing on the theme of identity. All of the teams’ creations are now on display in Katara cultural village.
Believing in yourself is the most powerful and proactive thing you can do.
Education…access for all
We took some time to shift the focus from football to education as participants attended a visit to Hamilton International School – part of the International Schools Partnership (ISP) portfolio – for a day of learning, exchange, and most of all fun. The visit was especially pertinent given that access to education is one of the main pillars of the SCWC. Street Child United believes that the cost of education (school fees, uniforms, books, and transport) is a barrier for many children across the world and that governments should ensure that children in street situations can enrol in schools.
From science to design technology, maths to ultimate frisbee, the children spent the day rotating between 14 specially curated sessions designed to give them a taste of lessons that many have never had the opportunity to experience before.
Inspire everyone to follow their dreams, everyone can do it.
Reflections from our volunteers
– Zoe Legg, Senior Marketing Executive
There are so many words I’d use to describe my time with SCU; humbling, memorable, emotional, and I’m grateful to have been able to join a group of people who are there for honest altruistic reasons. Since being home, I have realised the problems I face aren’t really problems at all in comparison, but just inconveniences. Every day these children are fighting for their basic human rights – that’s a real problem. Despite the language and cultural barriers, all the children were open-minded and embraced each other – finding their own ways to communicate and cheer all the teams on which was inspiring! One of my favourite moments was watching the boy’s final. It was down to penalties and the goalkeeper for Team Egypt wished the players from Team Pakistan ‘good luck’ before each shot. Then when Team Egypt saved the final penalty and won the tournament, the goalkeeper ran to comfort Team Pakistan. A heart-warming example of maturity and respect for the other team.
– Eloise Phillips, Executive Assistant
The Street Child World Cup 2022 was a whirlwind of emotions, and I am so humbled and grateful for the experience. The platform it gave to the children to advocate for their human rights, after overcoming unimaginable adversity, was incredible to watch and be a part of. It was no doubt exhausting, but it was worth every minute to see the young people be centre stage and treated like they are ‘somebody’. I will never forget some of the children I met in Qatar, and their optimistic attitude towards life which is something I will carry with me forever!
Join the herd!
Street Child United has launched GOAT NFTs, the first charity in the sport for the development sector to release an NFT (non-fungible token) collection, in order to raise funds to support street children from across the globe. The Street Child United GOAT – ‘Greatest of All Time’ – NFT collection has derived from the popular connotation associated with football legends, Messi, Ronaldo, and Pele; SCU is applying the acronym to the young children they serve – children living in street situations worldwide – promoting them as the ‘Greatest of All Time’.
The idea to use GOATs as the lead character was further reinforced when the concept was shared with SCU Young Leaders (past participants of SCWC events) who added: “Just like street children, goats often live in dangerous places and have mountains to climb”, making the GOAT the perfect character to embody the 28 teams, and young people joining the SCWC in Qatar this October.
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