I love the Big Issue's slogan. It’s smart, simple and it means a great deal to the people who’ve sold the big issue in all the countries it’s now sold in. It says it all. Its not just a magazine, it’s about giving people a means to regain something, rebuild a bit, a means to get by or enough cash for a decent feed. Its a way to help the vendors sort out whatever it is they need to sort out whether it’s a job, a home or themselves.
To me it’s even more than that but. What about the stick they have to take? People taking the piss or worse. It takes bollix to stand on a street corner, to be ignored by hundreds of passing people. It takes bollix to stand there and say, “Hey I know I made mistakes, I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t, but I’m trying to fix them now and you, yes you, can help me.” It takes bollix to stand there whether the weather’s shite or not, because well because there’s a millions reasons int there? I don’t know if its something I could do. They’re the ones making an effort. All we need to do is stop for a minute, put our and in our pocket. When a nod and a smile are a comfort and someone actually buying the paper is a bonus, it’s a hard road, could you do it?
Quiet, smiling Tom, the guy who sells it on QUT campus is a gem. If it’s the second week, he even tells me, he’s like, “You sure you’ve not got this already?” and I’m like “I’m sure Tom just give us the magazine, will ye?” I’d get it off him every week. Because he’s honest, because its a good read (interesting, topical, funny and definitely worth 5 bucks) and because he’s making an effort.
Now when Mel Young and Harold Schmied banged their heads together and the homeless world cup fell out, it took the issue to a new place. They weren’t talking about giving somebody a wee job for a spell, they weren’t talking about helping somebody or giving them a hand. This was something new, something much bigger. They set out to give people a once in a lifetime experience. Along with their respective organisations they've said ‘Here, start again’ or ‘Life doesnae always need to be a struggle’.
Hey, it’s no a holiday by any means. Try 15 minutes of street soccer. Its hard work. The team players don’t just show up on a Saturday to find their boots polished and the strips ironed, they have to put in a tremendous effort off the park as well as on it. Just getting to practice every week is a steep hurdle over the water.
I don’t just think the Homeless World Cup is important, I love it. And not just because Scotland are the current world champs either. The HWC is about football. Football that actually changes people’s lives. Really changes them. Physically, emotionally, mentally. Scotland’s coach, is just one of many shining examples of what I’m talking about.
You don't have to imagine it, football is the Anthony Robbins here, and it’s not charging some mug a small fortune to walk over hot coals.
So make an effort, it doesn’t even have to be a big one, just show them some support. Buy an issue, donate some cash, take the vendor a cup of coffee. Go and see the documentary.
Keep an eye on the results at this year’s tournament in Melbourne - December 1st to December 7th – if your in Melbourne Federation Square is just one of the venues.
There’s 56 countries competing this year, so there’s every chance your country could be could be a world champion football side and you wouldn’t even know it.