Belgian Homeless Cup: 10 years of reintegration through football
The 10th edition of the Belgian Homeless Cup ended at the ‘Foot Festival’ soccer tournament in Antwerp on June 29. As a combined social and sports project, the Belgian Homeless Cup aims to restore homeless people’s self-confidence by using the motivating power of football, the ‘king of sports’ in Belgium.
It couldn’t have been a better anniversary! The year of FC Antwerp’s return to Belgium’s first division is also the year of the 10th anniversary of the team Antwerp’s Homeless, the first Belgian team formed. Accordingly, the Belgian Homeless Cup staged the final two days of the national competition on Wednesday and Thursday, June 28 and 29, in the Flemish port city, bringing together 21 teams to compete over two days of festivities and rivalry at the Park Spoor Noord.
On the way to the World Cup
How much progress has been made since the Belgian Homeless Cup ‘s beginnings in Antwerp’s Place De Coninck under the aegis of the De Vaart Centre! Back then, a TV show aired on the Flemish TV channel VRT featuring former footballer Gilles De Bilde as the team’s coach, spotlighted the start of this fabulous adventure and put faces to the stories of the homeless players who had taken up the challenge.
Today there is both a men’s and a women’s national team! To the spectators’ delight, Belgium’s ‘Devils’ and ‘Flames’ took on Portugal, which participated as an honorary guest alongside the Netherlands and Great Britain, on June 28 and 29, 2017. Better still, the national team, presented in Antwerp, will compete in the Homeless World Cup in Oslo between August 29 and September 5!
What the future holds for the Belgian Homeless Cup
ENGIE has actively supported the Belgian Homeless Cup since 2011. This support is in keeping with its role as a stakeholder that is firmly rooted in the local community, fully assuming its corporate social responsibility.
The Homeless Cup is a powerful tool for reintegrating vulnerable people through sport. It proves that football can re-inspire people in difficulty. Of course, it is a competitive tournament, but the Homeless Cup uses the strength of football to work with homeless people on a range of objectives (building fitness, confidence and a positive self-image, establishing a social network, providing access to social aid, training and employment, etc.). One other singular characteristic of the competition is that the teams are formed through partnerships between various social organisations (the Belgian public welfare organisation – CPAS/OCMW -, street educators, shelters for the homeless, etc.) and professional or semi-professional football clubs.
To continue moving forward, in future the Belgian Homeless Cup will focus on three main priorities:
- setting up a women’s competition. So far, 95% of the participants have been men, but women are interested, too, so the idea is to establish a suitable framework to accommodate them;
- setting up a place to exchange views and information, dubbed TEAM-Tool, to enable teams to swap best practices and thus more firmly establish the philosophy behind the project and facilitate its implementation;
- building a genuine community around the Belgian Homeless Cup to forge links and stimulate exchanges between players and connect with supporters.
For now, though, ENGIE wishes the Belgian Devils and Flames the best of luck in the World Cup!