Liam MacDevitt Street Child World Cup Blog: Day Four
Last night the teams were invited to the British Ambassador's Residence for a pre-tournament party.
The boys and girls were treated to an array of food from all over the world, and a welcome speech from the British Ambassador, before a mass head tennis match between just about everyone - not something the ambassador regularly sees in his garden.
Also speaking at the reception was Ronalyn, who played for the Philippines in 2014, and is now the team's coach.
She described her journey to the Street Child World Cup: “I got involved in the FairPlay For All foundation because my family couldn’t support me in my education and we were poor. I had to scavenge and sleep in the road or on the streets, so being in the Street Child World Cup was a big opportunity that came to me, it offered me a lot of freedom.”
With the support of FairPlay For All, Ronalyn has been offered a scholarship to the largest university in the Philippines.
Like Ronalyn for many children here the Street Child World Cup really will change their life.
Many of the players had no official identity before the tournament, which for most no right to healthcare or education.
Most are in possession of their first ever passport. With the support of the amazing charities that support each team, players without the relevant identity forms have received the required documentation they needed to travel to Moscow.
After last night’s celebrations, the Street Child World Cup entered full swing this morning, with all 24 teams playing their group stage matches.
England girls qualified for the knockout stages after beating India 5-0 and drawing 1-1 with the Philippines. But the standout performance of the day came from the girls from Tanzania, as they beat home favourites Russia 3-0.
Even though the tournament is only a day old, there have already been moments that transcend the sport.
Today, in the middle of the chaos of the matches, the celebration of the winners and the continuous beating of a Brazilian samba drum, an Egyptian boy and a Russian girl passed the ball between each other for 10 minutes or so, not talking, yet smiling continuously.
This ability of football to join cultures and nationalities is something I hope continues throughout the summer - growing up shouldn’t change our mutual appreciation of the beautiful game.
Find out more about how the Professional Footballers' Association supports both current and former members.