Now here’s a hero at play:
Kudos to Indonesian keeper. Nae legs! Homeless world cup Glasgow pic.twitter.com/TxBhBJWkyT— Scott (@grumpybrush) July 11, 2016
The man in action is the Indonesian goalkeeper Eman Sulaeman — star of the 2016 Homeless World Cup held in Glasgow, Scotland.
He has won hearts as well as admiration of soccer fans all across the globe by defying the odds and playing the game despite having no feet.
Sulaeman was signed up for the Indonesian team via Street Soccer Scotland's partner organization in Jakarta, Rumah Cemara (Pine Home), a community-based organization that helps the live of people living with HIV/Aids and also those who suffer from substance abuse.
The Homeless World Cup, led by Mel Young, is a great initiative aimed at helping change public perceptions of homelessness and tackling social exclusion.
The Homeless World Cup Foundation has an unwavering commitment to fight homelessness and works tirelessly to improve the lives of people across the world.
In the foundation’s own words, over the years, the initiative has brought a lot of positive changes for the participants:
- 94 percent say the Homeless World Cup positively impacted their lives
- 83 percent improved social relations with family and friends;
- 77 percent changed their lives significantly because of their involvement
- 71 percent continue to play the sport.
Sulaeman is just one of many shining stars of the event. Here are some more:
Seunggug Jang, 35, is from South Korea. A bad accident and slow recovery drove him to depression and he began drinking and subsequently lost his job, becoming homeless. One of his friends told him about a homeless shelter where he started to get some help and was introduced to the Homeless World Cup.
His life has since turned around. He is excited about his future, he is determined to continue working hard and get his own apartment soon. He also hopes to get married and start his own family one day.
Lizbeth Angeles, 25, discovered that her love for football could help her overcome her problems with her family.
“Me and my parents had a very bad relationship for a very long time,” she explained with a smile on her face. “Now, I can get all my frustrations out by kicking the ball.”
The 2015 Homeless World Cup was the first time Angeles and most of her teammates had traveled to Amsterdam — or to Europe for that matter.
“We still can’t believe we’re here,” she said. “We have already played a few matches and we still can’t believe we are at this wonderful tournament!”
“It’s been amazing, we have bonded, and now we are all really close. It’s amazing being here with the people I love; my team have become like my second family and I really want to make them proud. We are really nervous about our game against Chile tonight, and I don’t want to let my team down.”
Angeles is hoping to begin her studies when she returns to Mexico, “I love sports and education, and I would love to dedicate my life to helping children and youth through sports, especially football, which is why I want to study something related to sports and social development.
Football is the national sport in Peru, but it’s a man’s game. However, Angie Malaver not only made it into the men’s/mixed team representing Peru in the 2015 Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam. She has become one of tournament’s best goalkeepers as well.
Malaver was selected to represent Peru as part of an inclusion program run by Hecho Club Social Peru. Before that, she was part of a program that worked with members of the LGBT community. “I play football with women who are discriminated against for being gay,” she said. “Sexual orientation shouldn’t prevent you from being included in our society.
“I think part of my role now will be to bridge the team from the LGTB program with the program run by Hecho Club Social Peru. And I’m very happy with that because I want to help people, and if I can do it with football, that’s my life sorted.”
“People often think that I’m gay because I support gay rights, I just want to shout at them ‘You don’t have to be gay to believe in equality!’” said Malaver with agitation. “Gay rights are human rights, you know?”
Jamie Maclean, 30, recalls his journey: “I was actually initially picked for the 2009 squad that would compete in Milan. Back then I was still in my addiction, which prevented me from attending, so I missed out on that.”
Things went from bad to worse for him till his mother “started taking me to AA meetings, and I’ve been attending since 2010.”
Maclean is now part of SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) where he channels his own experience to help others in similar situations.
“I work with people with mental health problems and addiction,” he said. “Through my own experiences I’ve been able to turn that around and help other people that come through the same sort of cycle.”
Brave Lifa, 23, wants to tell the world about life in Zimbabwe and create awareness and change things in his homeland so that the new generation doesn’t have to face the atrocities that he did.
“I need to tell you something,” he said... “I am an activist. If I tell you my story, it may be tough to live in Zimbabwe. But I am not afraid. Life is in the hands of god.”
“We don’t want our little brothers and sisters to go the same way like we go,” he added.
Toby McKillop, 38, has been fighting drug addiction and homelessness.
“The last few years of my life have been absolute hell,” he admits.
The thought of leaving his 5-year-old daughter Molly without a father made McKillop take a stock of his life and he decided to get help.
He went in to rehab and started playing street soccer.
“The Homeless World Cup has completely changed my life. It’s very hard to explain what it is that the whole experience gives you. Something changes inside,” he said “The way you see yourself. You are positive. Everything is now a possibility for you and you know what’s important in life. Life, now, is all about building my relationship with Molly. Everything I do now, staying clean and living life, I do it for Molly.”