Wasim and the Homeless World Cup
The Big Issue is Australia’s leading social enterprise. It is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that develops solutions to help homeless, disadvantaged and marginalised people positively change their lives. The Big Issue magazine is published fortnightly and sold on the streets by vendors who purchase copies for $3.50 and sell them for $7, keeping the difference.
There are more than 15,000 kilometres separating Sydney and Oslo. The 20-hour flight between the two cities is one the Street Socceroos will be taking in August. The team of seven, selected from The Big Issue Community Street Soccer Program, will be travelling to represent Australia in this year’s Homeless World Cup.
The Community Street Soccer program is run by The Big Issue, giving people experiencing homelessness and marginalisation access to health and physical activity.
One of those players selected is Sydney’s own Wasim who has been participating at the program for over a year now. “I was actually out of home for a few days and I had to go to Wayside Chapel. There was a case worker who sent me to Street Soccer and said it would be good for my health,” Wasim said.
“I was interested as well because I played soccer for my school team and I always wanted to play soccer but I didn’t have the chance because I couldn’t afford it. When I went to the program I liked the place and I liked the people. It may be more competitive at clubs but here it’s competitive as well as friendly.
“There is a balance here. They help you in many different ways both with physical and mental health. Before I came to the program I went through some bad situations in life, but it got better, and Street Soccer has helped me.”
Wasim has already travelled extensively to get to where he is. Born in Afghanistan, his family moved to Australia in February 2012 in search of a better life. “There are much better opportunities in terms of studies, jobs, safety, living environment and everything,” he said. “I’m excited to get my citizenship here soon.”
He is also very excited and proud to be representing his new home. “I saw Alfred and Maz go to last year’s Homeless World Cup and when I heard the news that I was nominated from my program I felt it was a big achievement. But then when I got selected for the Australian team it was an even bigger achievement. It has motivated me to be more positive and to focus on my studies as well as soccer.”
“I’m very excited to represent Australia, and I’m training to improve my mental and physical health. I’m also excited to learn from others and hear their experiences, both my teammates and those I’ll be meeting in Oslo.”
The Sydney Street Soccer Program runs 2.30-4.30pm every Monday at King George V Recreation Centre on Cumberland Street in The Rocks. Turn up or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining.
If you or anyone you know could benefit from becoming a vendor for The Big Issue, please contact the Sydney office for more information: 125-127 Little Eveleigh St, Redfern; phone 8332 7200 or email email@example.com.