by Daniel Hunter
Peru have a first-class football team this year at the Homeless World Cup in Santiago, Chile which started on Sunday, October 19, and will run through to the finals on Sunday October 26.
42 nations are taking part in the competition for the men’s Homeless World Cup with 12 women’s teams competing for the women’s Homeless World Cup. 57 teams in total are taking part in approximately 350 fast-paced Street Soccer matches over the week-long tournament.
One Peruvian player took time out to tell us his story of how football has transformed his life. Allan, 25, is on a high right now having just scored one of the two Peruvian goals in their win against England.
"Scoring this goal feels like an achievement and a symbol of everything I have worked hard for and I cannot wait to play again," he said.
"Street football and the Homeless World Cup has made me want to be a better person. I have improved and changed my life."
He says he used to have no motivation for life, having never been encouraged to go to school or to get a job and lived a very lazy existence, not even a life. After finding a passion in street football and being supported by his team mates and coaches, he now has a totally different outlook.
"My dream now is to help others like I have been helped and to coach young children in football. I want to share the amazing experiences, such as this one here in Chile, with others and help them like I have been helped," he said.
Allan is one of the many who have been lifted out of homelessness and poverty by Street Soccer organisations currently operating in 74 nations across the world with an accumulative reach of 100,000 each year. The Homeless World Cup is the final stage of the year-long programmes offering an alternative to a life of isolation, gangs, addictions and homelessness.
"The Homeless World Cup is a culmination of all that hard work and we have many success stories of our players’ progression routes out of poverty and their journey to rejoin society," President and Co-founder of the Homeless World Cup, Mel Young explains.
"With more than 80% of players returning to full-time accommodation, education and employment after taking part in the Homeless World Cup, they are literally transformed by the experience of representing their nation."
Follow Peru’s progress at http://www.homelessworldcup.org where the Homeless World Cup is being live streamed from Santiago.