With less than 24 hours until the kick-off in the first game of the 2014 Street Child World Cup, organised in association with Save the Children, anticipation is building amongst the Street Champions.
All the teams are now on site at Lonier, and have had some time to relax by the pool, meet the other teams and even start training.
The first few days have been focussed on welcoming the teams and helping them feel comfortable, and the Street Champions have been making the most of the time to get to know other children from all over the world.
Ulises, one of the boys representing Team USA, says spontaneous games of football have been bringing together children from all different nationalities: “We had a little scrimmage with India, and we played Argentina, which was fun. I’ve got to know India, Mauritius, Argentina, Pakistan, Kenya, Brazil and England, and everybody is really nice.”
Mochammad, captain of Team Indonesia, has also been enjoying the welcoming atmosphere: “I’ve already made a lot of friends from other countries like Mauritius, Argentina and South Africa.”
Louise, from Team England, has been enjoying being in an environment very different from home: “My favourite thing is the view. Obviously in London you don’t get palm trees, you don’t get mountains, you get stress. Here there’s no stress, it’s just relaxing.”
Despite the friendships being made, the serious business of competitive football is never too far from the Street Champions’ minds as the first fixtures fast approach. Celestre, from Team Mozambique, said: “We’ve seen some other teams train, and they play very well. But we’re very happy and I’m excited to win.”
Ulises added: “The team is feeling good, we’re all really proud to represent the United States and I’m very excited about it. I think we have a chance to win the tournament.”
But Street Child World Cup is more than just a game, and Monica from Team El Salvador is conscious of the significance of representing her country in Brazil: “I’m excited for the football but I’m also excited to be here with my team mates.
“The reason we’re here is to highlight the problems with poverty in El Salvador. There are good things about El Salvador, but bad things too: here is a team to show what the country can do.”
“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.”
“When ever people come across me they laugh. It seems like my mouth is zipped because they talk for us. I wish they could give us a chance to talk for ourselves.”
“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.”