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Civic Impact

Canada's best homeless soccer players crowdfund their way to the World Cup this fall

Players from Canada's Homeless Soccer championship team will head to Amsterdam next month to play in the Homeless World Cup.

With last month’s national tournaments now complete, Canada’s best homeless soccer players have set their sights on a new goal: the Homeless World Cup, happening in Amsterdam September 12. Facing off against tough international competitors like the Czech Republic and Costa Rica, the national champions from Toronto’s Covenant House team will join their coaches and managers in the Netherlands. “Those are some tough teams to go up against,” says Paul Gregory, the founder of the national tournament.

Canada’s team has launched an IndieGoGo campaign to help them. Perks for donors include anything from a player’s team card, to the Team Canada shirts (“For a few bucks, you can grab a great shirt,” says Gregory). The team is currently at about 35% of their $15,000 goal, which will help cover airfare and the cost of local travel for the team, with the World Cup picking up the tab for accommodations. Canada’s team also helps support a Cambodian player “to go to that tournament, so we’ll play a friendly game against them.”

The team, which has been supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Salvation Army of Peel, among others, will need to ensure that all its players have clearance to travel abroad. “Some of [the winning team’s] players aren’t eligible because they can’t leave the country,” says Gregory, but they’ve made selections from other eligible teams. In total, about eight players will head to the Netherlands early next month and visit with old rivals and friends. “We’ve developed relationships with a lot of the teams over the years” says Gregory.

“People ask ‘Why not spend this money on job training?’ But this is an igniter, it’s on a different level. Sometimes this kind of an event can be pivotal in somebody's life. I know players who remember this event from 2005, 2006, and they cherish this moment”, says Gregory.
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