The Street Child World Cup semi-finals have finished, and we know the 2014 finalists: in the girls tournament Brazil will play Philippines whilst the boys final will be a local derby between Burundi and Tanzania.
Brazil girls comprehensively beat El Salvador girls 5-0 in the first quarter final. After the game Brazil player Vitoria said that reaching the final is a great achievement, but the tournament has been about much more than that:
“It has been a great experience, and we’ve made a lot of new friends. We’ve grown together as a team as the games have gone on, and we played really well today. To be in the final representing your country, in your country, is amazing.”
Brazil coach Philip thinks his team have grasped the opportunity of taking in part in the Street Child World Cup: “I’m really proud of them. The girls were in tears at the end of the game because they are so happy to be in the final – they’ve been given a stage and they are making the most of it.”
In the other girls semi-final Philippines beat Mozambique 1-0 in an incredibly tight match. Philippines player Agot says the team are looking forward to playing the hosts in the final: ” We are so happy to be playing Brazil in the final. We know the Brazil team, they are our friends.”
Philippines coach Roy says the girls will be going all-out to win, but know that the Street Child World Cup is more than just a game: “It’s been a great experience for the girls just to be here. They’ve been sharing experiences and making friends – there’s a lot for them to take away from this.”
The Mozambique players were understandably devastated at the end of the game, but player Raquelina says they can still appreciate their experiences in Rio: “It’s been really cool to make friends with people from all over the world. I’m very upset to not get to the final, but I hope we can win third place tomorrow.”
Mozambique coach Paulino said his players have a huge amount to be proud of: “People said we wouldn’t even be able to get here, and we might still finish in third place. To lose just 1-0 to a very good Philippines team is a great result. Seeing the girls make friends with so many countries despite the language barrier has been amazing.”
In the first boys semi-final Tanzania produced a blistering first half performance to overpower the much fancied Team USA. The final score was 6-1, but the four unanswered goals Tanzania scored before half time, all of which long range efforts leaving the goalkeeper with no chance, killed the game before Team USA got started.
Tanzania coach Suleiman was delighted with his team: “I’m so proud of them, it was our best performance of the tournament. We knew the USA were very strong, but we were in the final of the 2010 Street Child World Cup and were determined to get there again.”
Lubugu, one of the Tanzania defenders, was happy that the team’s work through the week had paid off: “We’ve been training hard to stop conceding goals, and today we only let them score one. I am probably the only person ever from my village to represent the country on a stage like this.”
The last semi-final of the day was undoubtedly the most exciting. When Pakistan were 3-1 up at half time, they looked sure to be heading to the final. But Burundi stormed back in a pulsating second half, and managed to win the game 4-3.
Innocent, who scored two goals for Burundi, says the team’s resilience comes from the bond between the players: “We always knew we could win, because we are united and we love each other.”
Teddy, the Burundi coach, said he emphasized the need for teamwork at half time: “Two of the goals in the first half were because of unfortunate goalkeeper errors. I said to the boys that we are a team, and we mustn’t blame each other, only encourage. I’m really happy, and we are looking forward to the final.”
“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.”
“I know from personal experience just what power football can have to inspire and change young people’s lives whatever their background or nationality. This is what the Street Child World Cup is all about and I give it my full support.”
“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.”