Thursday, September 10, 2009

Homeless World Cup update

Reprinting this from here:

Team Philippines bested first opponent Luxembourg 6-1 at the 7th Homeless World Cup, an annual tournament which this year was held at the historic Arena Civica in Milan, Italy.

The Homeless World Cup seeks to promote awareness of homelessness and poverty around the world through football (street soccer). This year, around 500 players from 48 countries participated in the games.

“I’m excited, I’m very excited,” Team Philippines Coach Marlon Maro said before the opening game, as the contingent was parading through the historic Castello Sforezco in Parco Sempione.

“We’re much more prepared now than we were last year,” Maro explained in a separate interview. “We’re familiar with the rules now. We were able to simulate the actual playing environment, we had a lot of practice games from different groups back home, and we have a better composition of the team this year.”

Team Philippines was formed in May 2009 following an elimination tournament involving teams from eight homeless shelters around the country. Training began in earnest and intensified by July.

The game with Luxembourg, held around 4:15 pm, September 6 (Milan time) proved to be an exciting match. The opposing team’s players were much larger and bulkier than the boys from the Philippines, but that didn’t stop the country’s proud players from putting on a heart-pumping game and eventually winning the match.

One country, one goal

“Our goal here is to make more people aware of homelessness, which is a big problem in our country,” Maro said. “The Homeless World Cup has changed these players’ lives, but we will be encountering the same problems when we go back home. We hope that things will change.”

Witnessing the game were members of the Filipino community, many from the sorority Alpha Phi Omega, who decided to spend their Sunday afternoon cheering kababayans on. Also present to lend his percussive prowess to the game was percussionist and performance artist Paul Zialcita, whose powerful drumming became the soundtrack of the Philippine team through the game and the festivities before that.

“Homeless doesn’t mean hopeless,” Zialcita said after performing for the players on opening night. “We’re here to prove that people can do wonders once you give them access. We’re here to give poverty a penalty kick.”

Maro speaks of the improvement in his players’ behaviors and attitude after being selected for the Homeless World Cup. “They become more confident, more motivated. They are able to express themselves better and even start to mentor other players. The players’ participation in Homeless World Cup is really a life-changing event.”

After winning their first game, Team Philippines will move on to compete with Italy (12:40 PM, September 7 Milan time; 6:40 PM Manila time) and Mexico (3:20 PM, September 7 Milan time; 9:20 PM Manila time).

Team Manager Bill Shaw, editor of Jeepney Magazine, expressed hopes of placing among the Top 24 this year. Last year, Team Philippines placed 37 out of 48 teams.

This year’s participating nations are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Mexico, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, USA, and Wales.

For more information on the Homeless World Cup, visit For more information on Jeepney Magazine, visit

Writer's Update:

Congratulations Paul and Nina on getting married. Keep us updated.

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