Hary and the Homeless Football World Cup

Topic: Esendex

Hary, an account manager here at Esendex, was recently involved in the Homeless World Cup for Football AKA Soccer. As this is such a great cause and because we support a charity that helps the homeless in the UK, I thought it would be nice to find out more about this event and Hary’s involvement.


Andy: What exactly is the Homeless World Cup?Hary: The homeless world cup is an annual football tournament for the homeless, this year held in Poland, with a main objective to raise awareness for homelessness. It is also held to encourage people whom are homeless – be it due to alcohol, drugs, prison, or crime – to get involved in a social and community spirited event. Andy: How does the tournament itself work?Hary: Well, this year there were teams from 64 countries that entered. The event is self-funded by the countries’ team through corporate donations, general donations, fundraising and by selling the infamous Big Issue magazine. The event lasts for 7 days and is a knock-out tournament. Although some teams are clearly there to try and win, many teams that participate are just there to take part and raise awareness. The teams are made up of 4 players; 1 goal keeper and 3 outfield players. Each squad has a max of 13 players that can be subbed in throughout the game. Andy: What was your role in this tournament?

Hary: I was there to referee the games, I have done this for a number of years and I am extremely proud and lucky to be able to support such a great cause. It has taken me all over the world, with my first appearance here in Melbourne, Australia and since I have travelled to countries including Italy, Brazil, France, Mexico and Poland. The referees are funded by Specsavers, who cover all the travel and accommodation costs. My company, Ref’s World, supply the merchandise and kits the referees use as well.


 Andy: What was your top highlight of the event?Hary: My top highlight has to be from the match between England and Australia. Australia are known quite well within the tournament as being a team that is there for the social and participation factor; there to have fun, raise awareness and not take themselves too seriously. The English, however, are quite a competitive team on the other hand.Being that the tournament had a knock-out structure, there can be no draws, so the match was taken to penalties – sudden death in fact. Now, there is a girl on the Australian team, named Suzie, who doesn’t get to play many games but she has been part of the team for a few years. She was first up to take a penalty and low and behold, she scores it. A player from the England team then steps up and completely misses their penalty; this meant Australia has won! The Australian team, being the great sports they are, cheered for the English team and everyone else cheered and had a good old celebration. It was a truly euphoric moment.It was clearly obvious to me, having refereed many matches in my time, that England seemed to be holding back somewhat. They were a stronger team, yet Australia pulled away with the first two goals. England soon equalised and the game continued this way throughout. England did not make it completely obvious that they were letting Australia into the game, so it was still entertaining to watch. When I blew the whistle for full-time  the score finished level. It was a draw.IMG_51873011116070I later went to talk to the manager of the England team, to find out what was going on, as it seemed clear to me that something felt predetermined about this game. The manager then recited a story about how last year the English team completely obliterated the Australian team, who at the time were again there for fun and had many female and sub-par players. The manager said that he felt ashamed of this brutal display and said if England ever played Australia again under his guidance, he’d do his most to make sure this didn’t happen again. He told his players the story and let them decide what they felt was the right thing to do. Clearly they felt the right thing to do was to give Australia a chance, and perhaps even let them win. For me, this is one of the best moments I’ve ever witnessed during refereeing a game. Andy: How did you find Poland in general?Hary: Poland as a country is fantastic; it’s beautiful with many sights to see, however the government there don’t support or advertise the Homeless World Cup. Like many countries, they probably don’t want to admit there is a big problem with homelessness and would rather ignore the issue, or at least not make it clear and obvious there is a problem. The people of Poland did help with the promotion, mainly through word of mouth and social media which is what the whole event is about. If an event can be promoted this way, then the awareness is clearly being spread.Andy: When and where is the next Homeless World Cup? And are you going to be involved again?Hary: The next tournament will be held in Chile and there are expected to around 70 countries enter. Chile’s local government will also be supporting this event, which is rare, so it should attract many more spectators and be a much bigger event in general. I have every intention of participating in the next one as the feeling is so addictive. You feel great about what you are doing and have a great time doing it. The more of these events I take part in the more I notice people recognising me. I’m known as ‘Hary, the Australian Referee’, which is also a great feeling. I can honestly say that I could do this and only this and be happy with my life.


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Liz Wilson