Help through football

More than 250 players enjoyed fun and friendship at the Belgian Homeless Cup tournament - emphasising football's enduring role as a force for social good.

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On 7 March, Belgium’s national training centre in Tubize played host to the Belgian Homeless Cup, in which more than 250 players in 21 teams competed alongside each other in a spirit of fun and friendship.

This event is a socio-sporting football tournament for homeless people and other acutely vulnerable members of society. With teams coming together from all over Belgium, it gives people an opportunity to regain confidence in themselves through football and enjoy the experience with others.

“It’s a great honour for us to come and play here at the Red Devils’ training centre,” explained Dirk, the goalkeeper of the team from Leuven. “Lots of people need a day like this to put a smile back on their face and connect with other people who have experienced the same kinds of difficulty in their lives.”

The event was attended by the secretary of state for the fight against poverty and equal opportunities, Zuhal Demir, who said: “Sport is the best way of restoring social cohesion. People can meet here and talk about their various experiences in life. Football is giving these homeless people an opportunity to regain confidence in themselves and meet other people. Football has a role to play in society, and the fact that the Royal Belgian Football Association has agreed to take part in this project is very important.”

The Belgian Homeless Devils and the Belgian Homeless Flames will soon be pulling on the national shirt on the international stage, with the men’s and women’s teams both taking part in the 15th Homeless World Cup later this year. That tournament, which will take place in Oslo from 29 August to 5 September, will be a great opportunity for the players to make headlines and show off their skills.

This article originally appeared in UEFA Direct No167