The University welcomed hundreds of players from around the world to the campus this summer for the 2016 Homeless World Cup.
Sixty-four teams representing 52 countries came together in Glasgow’s George Square to celebrate and highlight the year-round, life-changing work of the Homeless World Cup National Partner network – and GCU helped keep them fuelled and fit throughout the week.
As a Homeless World Cup partner and the event’s hub, GCU served almost 19,000 meals to 512 players and their support teams in the University’s restaurants, and hundreds of players lived at Caledonian Court, the University’s student accommodation. Physiotherapy students treated players pitchside and events management student helped run a packed programme of fun events.
“We’re extremely grateful for the support of GCU,” says Mel Young, co-founder of the Homeless World Cup and a GCU honorary graduate. “The Homeless World Cup can’t do everything on its own and GCU provided a fabulous, essential hub. Providing a safe, comfortable place for our players is vitally important for the success of the tournament, because the tournament only works when it works for the players. GCU’s values are similar to those of the Homeless World Cup – the University is for the common good and so are we. It is a fabulous partnership and will continue.”
GCU got the ball rolling with a spectacular parade from campus on July 10 and throughout the week the teams played for 100,000 fans, including The Rt. Hon. Nicola Sturgeon MSP. Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar was among the other Members of the Scottish Parliament attending the event. He visited the Cup to meet GCU’s Physiotherapy students. Led by PhD student Megan Lloyd, 10 GCU physios were part of an international team offering hands-on support to up to 100 players a day.
“It has been a great opportunity to get involved in something that we wouldn’t normally have the chance to do,” says Megan. “Our students have had a chance to work at an international event as part of a multinational team, sharing best practice, gaining experience and using the skills they have learned in an academic setting with hundreds of patients.”
Mr Sarwar said: “The support the students have shown for the Homeless World Cup is great. GCU is the University for the Common Good and that sums up perfectly what it is doing. It shapes society in Glasgow and beyond. It’s a phenomenal institution.”
Alex Michaud, part of the GCU physios team, added: “This was a great opportunity to help people. It wasn’t just about myself but about helping the whole community. We had real patients, which is brilliant. It was a great atmosphere in the stadium and with the players. People were very thankful for everything we did and that was rewarding.”
The Homeless World Cup has now supported more than one million people across the globe, engaging 100,000 people annually. Through each country’s official National Partner, it gives homeless people an opportunity to enter transformative programmes from which they can build a brighter life.
Scotland player Sophie Gallacher said: “GCU has been brilliant – we have such a warm welcome. Everyone has been behind us. The experience has been life-changing.”
Jodie McEwan has also experienced the life-changing power of the Homeless World Cup. Last year she played for Scotland in Amsterdam. This year she was back as the team’s assistant coach.
Said Sophie: “I had nothing worth getting out of bed for before but when I got involved with the Homeless World Cup, I began taking responsibility. I knew that when I came back from playing in Amsterdam I had to keep moving forward. I got into Street Soccer Scotland and it gave me skills that I can use day to day. I have a tenancy now and when I heard that Scotland needed an assistant coach, I jumped at the opportunity. The Homeless World Cup totally changed my life. It gave me purpose.”