Belgian Homeless Cup

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Belgian Homeless Cup

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Belgian Homeless Cup is a social sports project designed to motivate and help homeless people reintegrate in society. Some participants are literally roofless, others are in poor housing situations and all have a cluster of problems such as debts, alcohol or substance abuse, mental health problems, lack of education, etc. The projects gives them a chance to concentrate on their strengths, to refind themselves as individuals and to learn to work together as a team. Football is the motivator, and we find that it works as a trigger to tackle other areas in life such as housing, health, work, training, relationships etc. We strive for a balance between sport and social issues, so that it is not the best footballers who win, but the team that has worked best to tackle their personal problems and made the most progress. In that proces, no one is left behind. Non-footballers can play a role as supporters, volunteers, etc. Another important element in the project is to influence public opinion on homelessness by creating more awareness on how easy it is to become homeless and how different the paths into and out of homelessness may be. By sharing individual's stories and showing their strengths and weaknesses we see that there is more empathy among the general public.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Homelessness is not just a housing problem, it tends to be a cluster of problems. By not focussing on the problems but on the energy, enthusiasm and skils of the players, we build their confidence and help them tackle areas in their lives that they want to change, when they are ready to do so. We also want to improve the public perception of the homeless, to show the general public that there is more to a homeless person than the cliché, and that there are many paths in and out of homelesness.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Belgian Homeless Cup does the national selection to determine who goes to the Homeless World Cup. In talking to other countries, we have found that our link with the national football association is unique, and our system of social judging is also unique. All teams are screened by an independent jury on a set of social criteria, and the marks awarded there are added to the football results to establish a ranking. In this jury, the organisations describe the way they organize themselves in cooperation with other organisations and the way to implement the principles with a good balance between the social an the sportive element. In addition, two players from each team testify and explain the dynamic of their teams. We choose to work this way, so we can hear the different sides of the teams: the way they organize themselves to be able to accomplish their goals and the way this is perceived by the players. The final tournament starts from this ranking, after that, football rules!
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

University students are currently researching the impact. At the moment we have anecdotal evidence that many individuals have got their lives back on the rails thanks to this project. They have found jobs, homes, gained in self confidence, improved their relationships, started training, learned to take care of their bodies by eating properly and reducing drug/alcohol consumption. We have also influenced the public perception of homelessness by getting the tournaments and the life stories into the press. Our first year got us of to a grand start with an 8 part television series, culminating in the Homeless World Cup in Melbourne, where the Belgian team of brave Gauls was awarded the first ever Bravery Cup. We focus on the positive energy and image of homeless people. Just by taking part in the Homeless Cup, they are winners. We consistently talk about 'players', not clients, not target groups. They are in the first place inviduals who can make a difference, not only on the field but also outside it.
About You
Belgian Homeless Cup
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Section 1: About You
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Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name

Belgian Homeless Cup

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Organization Country
Your idea
Country your work focuses on

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Do you have a patent for this idea?


We organise three tournaments each year in order to select the winning team. The football results are paired with the results of a social jury, to level the playing field. There is not just the trip to the Homeless World Cup as a prize, but also the chance to play in a European tournament or to win a teambuilding weekend with Outward Bound School, an organisation that works with groups on the basis of learning by experience.
At the awareness raising level we are about to launch our own newspaper 'The Cup' as a tool to raise awareness and inform stakeholders and the public, people who drop by the tournaments. But also as a way to bring together the different teams, with inspirational stories about the players, their thoughts and actions.

At a local level we stimulate the teams to broaden their perspective: it's not only about the players, but about the fans as well. It's not only footbal, it's other sports as well. It's not only about playing football, it's doing activities towards teambuilding and getting in contact with other initiatifs such as jobcoaching, health, volunteering etc.


Players level:
We can surely state that most players advanced in their personal life.
- Work: several players found work, others inscribed in an education. Of the 8 players participating at the Homeless World Cup, 5 found a job after. The other players achieved incredible growth. One is a volunteer in a welfare organisation, other players still train every week
- Health: weekly training toughens the body and gives motivation to stop or reduce use of alcohol or drugs
- Administration: getting the paperwork straighted out opens doors to housing, jobs etc
- Self-confidence
- Housing
- Social network: belonging to a team
Organisational level:
- 8 part tv series 'Homeless Word Cup' + book (Flemish television 400 000 viewers & spin off)
- major press coverage in Flanders
- launch of our own newspaper 'The Cup'
- 9 participating teams in 2010, easily 200 people attended the tournament as player, social worker or supporter in addition to the general public who see the event as passers by and stop to find out what's going on
- national teams participated in the HWC in Melbourne and Milan, and we aim to send a team to Rio in 2010

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

2010/2014 : We urgently need to find long term sponsors and reliable government funding to cover our costs. We have two members of staff who need longer term job security + we need a new pitch (or two) and there is the event and travel costs to cover. An important challenge is to expand into the French speaking part of the country, where we are not yet well known. The football clubs need to pull their weight and offer the homeless teams more support, some do a lot and others do very little.
There is also a need to break into the media as a social project, reports tend to focus too much on the events and the trip to the Homeless World Cup and not enough on the succesful social work that is going on.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

Lack of funding/sponsoring. Otherwise, we have the fundamentals in place: a thourough vision, good structures, good rules, good organisation, enthousiasm of local authorities and organisations, good perception by the players

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$100 ‐ 1000

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?


What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

In what country?

, XX

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


If yes, provide organization name.

Open Stadion vzw and Steunpunt Algemeen Welzijnswerk vzw

How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

We work closely with all sorts of social actors such as the employment agencies, social welfare, mental and physical health centers, and self organisations for the homeles and the poor. We also search for input from businesses who can help us with their knowhow and facilities. Nike and Outward Bound are important partners.

In every partnership we seek a win-win situation.
E.g. Nike has trainees who are being educated to become floor managers. We give them to opportunity to do their training within a homeless team. Our win is that the knowledge and corporate teamvalues the coaches use gives the local team an extra knowhow. Nike can offer its trainees an interesting experience at a professional and personal level.

We are a member of the European umbrella organisation for the homeless FEANTSA and we can combine lobbying at a policy level on behalf of the homeless with media coverage and success stories on how football has changed homeless peoples lives. We gain credibility as well as networking advantages by working closely with local, regional and national governments, with the football clubs and national football association and with businesses.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

- we need to expand into the French speaking part of the country to make our organisation truly national
- we need to help new teams and build the expertise of the existing teams in using footbal as a motivator in order to achieve a variety of social goals (methodology development)
- we need basic equipment such as pitches and storage space, tents and things such as banners and flags to enhance our visibility during events

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

After a local Antwerp team joined up with a television production house to make an eight part tv series, we knew the time was right to start a national competition and to use the promotional impact of that first tv series to get teams started across the country.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

The umbrella organisation for the homeless in Flanders and Brussels (Steunpunt Algemeen Welzijnswerk) and a football in the community organisation (Open Stadion) found each other and had the right mix of contacts and skills to start up the project together.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Through another organization or company

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company

Homeless World Cup - sent a message on 8th June, so time was very tight!