A football squad of nine girls aged 14-17 from London who have all experienced homelessness or having to leave their family home as children will represent England at the 2014 Street Child World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Their involvement aims to raise attention of the hidden UK issue of young women living on the streets alongside advocacy for supporting global measures to help vulnerable street children. About 67,000 children in England are looked after away from their family home, and just under half of these are girls (44%).
Ten teams of girls from around the world will compete in the Street Child World Cup’s first ever girls-only tournament. The girls’ tournament is an important statement of solidarity with street girls who are so often unseen and denied the opportunities to play sport. It provides these girls with an even greater opportunity to change perceptions and for their stories to be heard. Street connected girls often lack visible role models and sport can offer these – as well as a chance to change perceptions, challenge stereotypes and dreams.
We have support from Team GB women’s footballers as well as footballers from the Brazilian women’s national team and league. They will, as role models and ambassadors for the girls, run workshops and mentor the girls during their time in Rio.
Street Child World Cup Chief Executive John Wroe said: “We’re delighted to welcome Team England on the Road to Rio 2014 and this would not be possible without the support of Deutsche Bank and StreetSmart. The issue of children forced to live on the streets is a global issue and Team England will provide a shining example of how with the right safety net of support; the most vulnerable children can get their lives back on track. No child is born to be on the streets.”
Team England’s incredible journey on the Road to Rio is sponsored by Deutsche Bank’s youth engagement programme, Born to Be, and StreetSmart, an organisation which raises money for hundreds of projects tackling homelessness across the UK with the support of leading restaurants and hotels.
Though the social phenomenon of street children is far less widespread in England than many other countries across the world, 75,000 young people across the UK are in contact with homeless organisations each year.
This is why the Street Child World Cup has partnered with New Horizon Youth Centre and the Independent Futures service run by Islington Council to coordinate Team England. New Horizon Youth Centre in the Kings Cross area of London aims to enable young people to gain skills and knowledge to improve their life chances and to help them move from adolescence into adulthood. Its street outreach team connects with young homeless people and helps them with accommodation, employment skills and counseling services.
Independent Futures supports all young people in Islington who have been looked after in foster families as children, helping them with their education, accommodation and other aspects of their lives as they make the transition into adult life.
Team England will be recruited by Independent Futures in September, and they will receive coaching in the lead up to the tournament.
In a joint statement, New Horizon Youth Centre and Islington Council said:
“We are very excited to be working with the Street Child World Cup which we feel sure will be an inspirational experience for the young people involved and enable them to contribute to raising awareness around the world ”
Colin Grassie, Deutsche Bank UK CEO and Group Executive Committee member said, “Deutsche Bank is committed to supporting society’s most vulnerable young people into taking positive action through our partnership work with Street Smart and other Born to Be community partners. We know that many young people in care are less likely to achieve at school which can have devastating effects on their future prospects for employment and social mobility. Through sponsoring Team England we hope it can lead to greater opportunities for the young girls and the many others they will inspire along the way. “
Glenn Pougnet, CEO at StreetSmart commented: “Through our successful eight year partnership with Deutsche Bank we have helped hundreds of homeless people return back to independent living. Our support for the UK team is an important opportunity to shine a light on the plight of young girls living in care in this country and the hurdles they have to overcome in order to stay off the streets”
Central to the sponsorship is ensuring a legacy of positive impact for the young players and supporters beyond the tournament. Deutsche Bank employees will work with New Horizon Youth Centre and Independent Futures to develop a comprehensive range of mentoring, employment training and work experience post the Street Child World Cup, not just for those involved, but for the young people being helped by New Horizon Youth Centre and Independent Futures.
Supporters of the initiative include David Beckham, Thandie Newton, Theo Walcott and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
“No child should have to live on the streets. I commend the Street Child World Cup for providing a platform for the rights of street children to be heard.”
“I experienced hardcore street life in my youth. I know what it’s like. I congratulate the Street Child World Cup project in it’s commitment to bring attention to the plight of Street Children through the power of football.”
“It was a privilege to be invited to the launch of the Street Child World Cup at Downing Street. It gives children a voice through football, sales a platform to express their rights and celebrate their abilities – I’m proud to add my support.”