The Homeless World Cup was founded by Mel Young who is recognised as being one of the world leading social entrepreneurs.
The foundation came around after an attempt to invent an international language so that homeless people could communicate with each other anywhere in the world. Of course one did already exist and that was football with the first tournament being held in Austria in 2003. Mel has also founded the Big Issue in Scotland, this is a magazine sold by homeless people with a circulation of more than 40,000. Also the International Network of Street Papers which is a global network of papers that are sold on every continent and which Mel is the honorary president.
What Brings You Happiness?
I have worked with homeless people since 1993. When I see people transform from broken people who live on the streets into people who are integrated into society; this makes me really happy. I got onto a bus in Edinburgh recently and the bus driver said hello but I didn’t recognize him. Then he said that he had played in one of the football teams and then I remembered him. He told me that thanks to his participation in the football project, he now had a job, rented a house and was engaged to be married: he was happy and I was happy. A young girl who had been homeless in Mexico stood in front of a packed arena and told everyone how she had been abused when she was younger and had lived on the streets – she said she was really proud to represent Mexico in the Homeless
World Cup and she promised that she wouldn’t let herself or Mexico down and would make everyone proud of her. She did. This makes me and thousands of people very happy. Happiness is former homeless people who are no longer homeless.
What Would You Change (If You Could) To Make Our
World A Better Place?
I would change the economic system. We have created a crazy world where some people are very rich and others are so poor that they are living on the streets with absolutely nothing. All rich people I speak to are good people and they say that homelessness shouldn’t exist. They are very sincere about this yet the problem grows and the world becomes unsustainable: two worlds exist within one world. I try to create a bridge between the two worlds in order to help people out of poverty. We need to create an economic system which has many more bridges; which allows enterprise and creativity; which rewards success but which eradicates homelessness and poverty and confines it to history books. People say I am crazy to think this but I believe it is quite possible to achieve. We urgently need more bridge builders!