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As featured on NewsNow: Football news

​Homeless World Cup 2016: From South Sudan to Glasgow via Melbourne

Whilst football is the centre piece of the Homeless World Cup the game itself is just a means to an end rather an end in itself.

The tournament is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives and below is the story of one such person...

The Homeless World Cup is designed to bring people from all over the world together to celebrate their triumph over difficult circumstances. It's also a chance for people to travel to Glasgow to play football and make new friends.

Not many teams will travel further than the Australian team, and not many players will have travelled further in their life to reach this point than Jackson Gore, 26, from Melbourne.

Jackson grew up in South Sudan surrounded by civil war in the Second Sudanese Civil War. The conflict raged from before Jackson was born until 2005. It claimed two million lives—mostly civilians due to the ensuing drought and famine. There were also 20,000 'Lost Boys of Sudan' who were either orphaned or displaced because of the conflict.

Jackson lost his father in 1994 when he was just four years old. He lost his mother six years later, becoming an orphan at 10 years old. He had lost everything.

He explains, "I moved to Khartoum and lived there for a bit. Life was hard, but my older brothers and uncle looked after me. After that we moved to Egypt. We were looking for a better life. Then in 2006 we moved to Australia, and after that everything was getting better."

As part of the Community Street Soccer Programme, which is overseen by The Big Issue in 18 different programmes around Australia, Jackson became involved in the Dandenong programme. In 2010 some friends who he had been playing football with in the street, told him about Community Street Soccer.

"I went along and I found something good, something really good. Football keeps people together and keeps everyone united. I went along every week and got to know lots of people from different backgrounds. I went to trials and worked hard so the coach would select me to come to Scotland."

And here he is in Glasgow. "I like it," he says. "The people are very friendly, they smile. The event is perfect, everything is organised. I love it. It's a good experience, something I can talk about in the future, coming here to Scotland. I've met a lot of people and made a lot of friends already."

It's intoxicating to hear him talk about his future. "Everything is going well at the moment. I can't complain about anything. The thing I was looking for, I got it. I want a secure life, I want to study, I want to work. I want things I can look forward to in the future and I found them in Australia."

What else, I ask? He giggles as he tells me he wants to have a big family: "I didn't have a father growing up and I want my kids to see me as a role model, because I didn't get to have time with my father, which is something I miss. In the future I hope and pray to God that what I missed, I can provide to my kids."

By Gregor Dow (www.homelessworldcup.org/)

Photo: Romain Kedochim

Ian Ferris
About the author

Ian Ferris

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