From the old timers in the Brazilian boteco reminiscing about when Pele and Garrincha ruled the world, to the kid in the Bronx telling his buddies about the wonder goal he saw Cristiano Ronaldo score on cable the night before, soccer is a game of stories.
And nowhere are there as many stories as at the Street Child World Cup, an event which brings together teams of former street kids from all over the world to play in a tournament aimed at raising awareness of the plight of homeless children. This year’s competition, held in Rio de Janeiro, ended on Sunday, with Tanzania beating Burundi 3-1 in the boys’ final, and the Brazil girls’ team thrilling the home crowd with a 1-0 victory over the Philippines.
There is the story of the Burundi boys’ team, which features both Hutu and Tutsi players and is becoming a symbol of reconciliation in a country still recovering from the devastation wreaked by a bloody 12 year civil war that left an estimated 300,000 dead.
“When we get back we’re going to tour Burundi,” says coach Teddy Bright. “The boys will go around the country and play soccer, and after each game they will deliver a message of reconciliation. They will tell people look at us, we’re Hutu and Tutsi, but we can live together and play soccer together.”
Then there is Crystal, the girl from the Philippines who spent the early years of her life living in a cemetery in Manila. “Street children live here in the cemetery because otherwise they don’t have shelter,” she says...
You can read the rest of this article on the Sports Illustrated website here. The artwork is "Morro da Favela" (1945) by Tarsila do Amaral.