Street Child World Cup 2022 kicks off in Doha
CEO John Wroe declared this year’s Street Child World Cup open this morning after a vibrant and energetic welcome session in the ballroom at Multaqa. The room was a hive of energy as excited players and volunteers gathered en masse for the first time.
After some initial opening speeches, the Young Leaders were introduced on stage to rapturous applause from the audience. John Wroe and two Welsh volunteers unfurled a Welsh flag with the word “solidarity” written across it as a symbol of one of the tournament’s key messages. All the while, illustrator Tim Vyner was producing a visual display of events, projected onto a big screen in the corner of the room.
After a few minutes for the teams to meet and greet each other, Gianni took to the microphone and introduced the seven key themes of the tournament. These included: Be Proud, You are the Voice, Respect, More than a Sports Tournament, Be Proactive, Be Kind, and Have fun and live in the moment. One by one, players took it in turns to stand up and tell the room what each message meant to them. A Mauritian team member responded “I am the voice of the voiceless”, in one of the more memorable statements of the session.
Next, teams engaged in an arts session, creating their own flags in a bold array of different paints. A break was taken for lunch, before Congress began in the early part of the afternoon.
Once Congress had completed, the teams travelled over to the nearby training pitches of Education City. Warm-ups commenced, drills were undertaken, and in some cases, matches were played. This was the first chance for the teams to showcase their skills on Qatari soil, and there was some very impressive footballing ability on display.
This was also the first chance the media had had to gain access to the teams. A series of TV and broadcast interviews took place by the sides of the pitches, as interest in the tournament really began to build momentum
After the training sessions, the teams were transported back to Oxygen Park for the Group Stage draw. The main stage was lit up in the darkness and, with music blaring from the speakers, a buzzing atmosphere filled the park. Anticipation then grew as the teams waited to discover who they would be playing in the Group Stages of the tournament.
The draw for the girls’ tournament took place first, with team captains coming onto the stage one by one to show off their match shirts. Once this had concluded, the audience was treated to a fashion show and traditional dance by the Mexican team – a sign of what is to come at tomorrow’s late show.
The boys’ draw was similarly tense, with some of the England players falling to the ground in anguish when it was revealed they would be playing Brazil. This was just one of the many outpourings of emotion witnessed through the course of the evening.
After some concluding remarks from John Wroe, all the teams posed for a group photo in front of the stage. Everyone then headed home, but the Street Child World Cup had begun, and the excitement was palpable.