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Several former professional footballers will act as team managers at the Homeless World Cup in Mexico City, where 500 players from 47 countries are to participate in a 6-day tournament from November 13th until 18th.

FIFPro is an official partner of the Homeless World Cup and promotes fair play at the event.

Former pros Thomas Morgan and Gilbert Prilasnig have already made numerous trips to the Homeless World Cup.

Last year, in Oslo, Morgan enjoyed the Irish men’s team finishing in the top eight and his women’s team making a promising debut. Prilasnig guided Austria to the title in the second league of the (six league) men’s event.

However both men stress that the Homeless World Cup is not about winning, but about people finding their way back in society. All participants are trying to overcome serious hardship, including homelessness or addiction, and have sought and found help from local organisations associated with the Homeless World Cup foundation. (Click here for more information).

“For me, the tournament is successful if everybody gets the most out of this experience,” said Prilasnig, who won two Austrian league titles with Sturm Graz. “All players have had a very troubled past, but they have made the necessary steps in their development to be invited for the Homeless World Cup. I always tell my players to celebrate that they got there: enjoy the games, make friends and give everything on the pitch.”

Morgan has experience of dealing with troubled people. He organized a football league in a prison for several years. “It was a tough spot, but I was able to build up a good relationship with the prisoners,” the former youth international said. “It helped that they knew I was a former footballer, who had won four league titles and was captain of the bronze medal team at the Under-20 World Cup in 1997.”

When players left prison, Morgan would steer them towards the Irish Street Leagues, were they could find support and keep playing. Eventually, he too would get involved with the Street Leagues, coaching teams at the Homeless World Cup. “I want to give back to people who have been less fortunate. Just give them an opportunity. And of course, I like football. I was always playing on the streets of Dublin’s inner city.”

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Gilbert Prilasnig with the Austrian team at the 2017 Homeless World Cup

 Prilasnig got involved when Harald Schmied, co-founder of the Homeless World Cup, asked him to coach the Austrian team in 2004. “I was still playing and he wanted a coach with a ‘professional’ background. I have always been open-minded and liked the challenge.”

Fourteen years later, Prilasnig is still around. “For me it’s special being part of the Homeless World Cup. I practised my first coaching skills at the tournament and learned how to deal with extreme personalities. I really appreciate the idea behind this ambitious event, using football to get people off the streets. I want to continue the work that Harald Schmied started in 2003 in Graz, my city.”

When selecting their squads the coaches look at the player’s behaviour instead of the football skills. “The most important thing is the player’s social development, not winning the world cup,” Prilasnig said.

“You cannot always select the best footballers,” Morgan said. “Sometimes a player is putting so much effort into his personal development, that you cannot ignore him. He deserves that you take him, because it will really help him in the future.”

For the players, it does not end with the Homeless World Cup. “What is most important is that we stay in touch with them,” Morgan said. “They will go back to their street leagues and we will involve them with some events. The following year, we will bring them all in to educate the new players about the experience.”

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Thomas Morgan (right) with Sean Kavanagh (manager Street Leagues) 

FIFPro's involvement

FIFPro is an official partner of the Homeless World Cup since 2015. In Mexico, FIFPro will present a daily fair play award to a team which showed outstanding sportsmanlike behaviour. The FIFPro Fair Play Award emphasizes that respecting yourself, your teammates and opponents is more valuable than winning a match or tournament. For all participants, winning back control of their life is the most important goal of the event.

Nine FIFPro member unions are supporting a local street football organization: ABF (Bulgaria), HUNS (Croatia), FPAI (India), NISO (Norway), PFA England, PFAI Ireland, PFA Scotland, SFS (Sweden) and SAFP (Switzerland).

 

Click here for more information about the Homeless World Cup.