Nine former street boys from Pakistan played football in their nation’s colours at the Street Child World Cup Rio 2014 and went on to inspire their country. The boys were welcomed home with a rapturous reception from 7,000 people at Karachi airport.
From the start of the tournament the team were followed keenly at home, particularly when the boys came up against Team India. The final score was in Pakistan’s favour, but it had no impact on the great friendship between the two teams. Team Pakistan eventually went home with a bronze medal after losing to Team Burundi in the semi-final.
“I have always dreamed of being a footballer, but I never dreamed of playing at an event in Brazil, the land of football.” Raziq, Team Pakistan
On their return to Pakistan, the boys embarked on an “I am Somebody” 11-city nationwide tour, supported by NGO Muslim Hands to raise awareness about the situation of street children in Pakistan. In response to the tour, Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a resolution in May 2014 for the social protection of the country’s estimated 1.5 million street children. (Pictured below)
“Team Pakistan won a bronze medal at the SCWC and made the nation proud. They have changed the face of football in Pakistan and promoted sport as a key tool in the social reintegration and rehabilitation of children living and working on the streets.” Syed Ali Bilgrami, Team Pakistan Team Leader, Street Child World Cup Rio 2014
Taking their message across Europe, the boys played in the Norway Cup in May 2014 and were received at the Norwegian parliament. They went on to Holland and then to Paris where whey were welcomed by Pakistan’s Ambassador to France, Ghalib Iqbal who said;
“Seeing what each of them is achieving with the right support provides hope to all of us.”
“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.”
“It was possible to gather many nationalities, story cultures, viagra 60mg and form a nation: a nation of free man, with equal rights and opportunities, mutual respect, rightful duties. It was 10 days when the world, in that corner of Rio, was fair to socially excluded children; they could feel the beauty of being somebody in this world.”
“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.”