As many as 1 billion people lack adequate housing.  Article 25 (1) of United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. Everyone deserves a home.

The issues surrounding homelessness are very complex. One of the main such issues revolves the usage of drugs. A lot of young people these days are being kicked out of the family home because their drug dependency ruins family life. This leads to them being homeless and living rough on the streets. Some people end up homeless after being involved in criminal or illegal activities. The criminals and convicts that serve time in prison often find themselves on the streets after losing their accommodations once they get out of prison.

People also end up homeless because of factors that are out of their control. One such factor is losing their job unexpectedly. Imagine living on a shoestring budget and losing your job overnight. It is not always easy to find a job, especially in this economic climate. Without savings and a job, it is near impossible to keep a roof over your head. It is not always down to bad life choices that lead a person to a life of living rough on the streets. Some young people end up homeless because of broken families. They find themselves homeless when both parents remarry and they have nowhere to go and end up on the streets. Other times people end up homeless from birth as they are born into a society filled with austerity. Refugees may also end up homeless after fleeing their home country due to political conflicts and other circumstances.  As a society and a human, we have a responsibility of helping the homeless get off the streets. This is a win-win for everyone as helping them off the streets will also improve the society on a multi-level scale.

We may have the intention to help but not know where to start. That is where football comes in. Football is a sport that is played in every single neighborhood in every continent around the globe. Therefore, it is an obvious solution that football can be used as a tool to help such a universal problem- homelessness. Football can be used to tackle even the most difficult problems in a society. It might be hard to imagine how something as simple as a ball can change lives.

Homelessness can force people into isolation, which affects their ability to share, communicate their thoughts, and work with others. When a homeless person gets involved in football, they build relationships; they become teammates who learn to trust and share. They have a responsibility to attend training sessions and games, to be on time, and to be prepared to participate. They feel that they are part of something larger than themselves. The sense of empowerment that comes from participating in street football helps homeless people see that they can change their lives.

Football teaches people a lot of important lessons that we can use as tools to improve our lives, regardless of our background. One such lesson is on how to be disciplined. To excel in football, players are required to train and workout regularly. It requires a significant amount of discipline to be able to do that. If the homeless people were to participate in a homeless league or World Cup, they will be required to train and maintain a certain level of discipline.  They will have no choice but to understand discipline and enforce it throughout the rest of their lives. That will truly make a huge difference. Football is also a great place to learn accountability. Football is not an individual game. To be on a team, we must learn to be accountable to the people around us. This skill will translate into a real life lesson. The homeless will be able to learn that being accountable will help them get out of the ordeal they are in. It will help them curb any bad habits or addiction and make them accountable for their actions. This in return will help them progress on the journey of getting out of their circumstances. Another important skill to have in life is to know how to finish something that we start. Not every player will play in every single match for the team. Just because you made the team is not a reason for you to be playing every minute of every single match. Another cause for frustration in football is an injury. However, you learn that it is important to stay committed and persevere through these inevitable challenges. The same goes for real life. It is important to persevere when faced with challenges in real life but you still need to find the strength to finish what you started.

Now that we are at the end of the article, I am sure you are wondering how you can help do your part to make a difference in the lives of homeless people. Going back to basics, we should first and foremost remember to Always respect homeless people. Some made poor choices but others didn’t. Even if they did make poor choices, no one deserves homelessness. Homeless people are not worth less than you. They are still someone’s child. Talk to them and treat them the way you would want to be treated.

You may organize friendlies to play against any homeless team you may know. If there aren’t any in your area, you can try to organize a homeless team. You may get a sponsor to help you out. There are a lot of information available online so do your research. You can get a couple of coaches to volunteer and coach a 5 a side game for the homeless on weekends or weeknights. Volunteering is the simplest way you can help the homeless. It is not limited to coaching. You can volunteer at shelters and soup kitchens. You can also donate money to homeless shelters, just make sure you have done your research and they are a legitimate shelter. You can donate items of clothing to them. Items such as blankets and coats are extremely crucial during the winter.

Hunger affects millions of people every day. We get cranky and moody when we are hungry. Now imagine people that can barely get one proper hot meal a day. Often these people are left to sit out in the cold all day. There are lots of ways that you can help homeless people get food. You can donate canned items and fresh fruits and vegetables to local soup kitchens. Soup kitchens focus on solving one of the biggest short term problems that homeless people face: getting enough food to survive. You can also drop off food items which you can get for cheap and in mass quantities from stores to soup kitchens or hand them directly to the homeless people on the street.
One of the best ways to make a difference for homeless people is to change how our society
views homelessness issues and what it does about them. If we can change the mindset of society that views the homeless in a negative light, we will be able to get more people to help deal with the root of these problems and help the homeless get back on their feet. As they say, there is strength in numbers. Another important issue that needs to be highlighted is the lack of mental health services for the homeless. Support such local services and write to your local politicians about your cause.

The next time you see a homeless person, smile at them. Chat to them about football. Talk to them. Don’t ignore them. Homeless people can feel very self-conscious and lonely, treating them as a person can make their day much better. An invitation for a kickabout at a local park won’t hurt either. Who knows, that could be the start of a local homeless football club in your city!



Written by Keshika Subbarao

A passionate football fan, professional football coach,scout & writer. Believes that football can change the world.

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