Homelessness Is a Disgrace, But We All Have the Power to End It

People might say that I am being naïve but someone needs to bang the table and someone needs and have a vision to show what is possible.
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Over the past 20 years I have given talks across the world to a huge variety of people -- young and old; poor and very rich -- and never once has anyone told me that they thought homelessness is a good idea. If we all think it is such a bad idea, why does it exist?

We have created a system where every country in the world is experiencing some level of homelessness. As humans beings we are geniuses and there are many examples of how we have used our intellect and innovation to create the most amazing endeavours.

We have invented the internet which has revolutionised the way we communicate across the globe. We have sent space rockets to the moon and created unmanned drones. We now produce wonder drugs to cure challenging illness. Genius indeed. Yet, we can't solve homelessness.

I founded the Homeless World Cup with my great friend Harald Schmied in 2003. Since then over one million homeless people have become involved in street soccer projects in 74 countries around the world and changed their lives as a result. It is a very simple intervention and it works, so we keep doing more.

We hold our international tournament every year and on October 19, our 2014 event will kick off in Santiago, Chile. (Please visit our web site here for updates.) A huge percentage of those million people now have jobs and homes or gone to college or come off drugs and have changed their lives completely. But the brutal truth is that it just isn't enough.

In order to create systemic change which ends homelessness altogether, everyone has to play their part. People shouldn't be saying: "The Homeless World Cup is doing a great job" and then do nothing. Everyone has to "own" homelessness in order to end it.

With just over a week until kick-off, our homeless players from across the world will be taking the first step on the final leg of their journey out of homelessness. The backgrounds to the lives of some of the players is utterly horrendous but they have grabbed a chance to change their lives and now they will represent their country at sport.

They are an inspiration. They are real heroes and we will salute them. With next to no resources they are showing how change can be created on a meagre amount. The leadership they show inspires others to follow. Some former players are now coaches or community leaders and they have shown others how it is possible to change their lives. They have created the pathway and now hundreds of others are following.

There is much more to do. We are in the process of building a huge movement on the backs of their efforts. We are launching the campaign at the end of the week and we would hope that thousands of people will join in and help to end global homelessness within this lifetime.

People might say that I am being naïve but someone needs to bang the table and someone needs and have a vision to show what is possible. Homeless people are now heading to Santiago and they will show the world that the stereotypical views of homeless people are just myths. They will be brilliant ambassadors for the human race. We can all build on that, join in with them and create a movement which changes the world altogether.