Tears & Laughter

October 12, 2022

Yet another scorching day in Doha began with one of the more poignant moments of the last week. The Sudanese and Bosnian teams visited Qatar Charity for a brief ceremony in which players had the chance to meet the sponsors who have supported them since becoming orphans.

John Wroe, who mentioned this morning that he had visited Sarajevo three months ago to meet members of the Bosnian team, stated in his address that “the currency of the Street Child World Cup is tears and laughter”. Well, both were there in abundance this morning at Qatar Charity.

Members of both teams gave speeches, in addition to officials from the charity, and the room fell eerily silent and emotional as a Sudanese player gave an account of his upbringing and the difficulties he has faced.

A Bosnian player – Ibrahimsapic Mirza – spoke on the benefits of the Street Child World Cup. He told the audience: “We will return home with new experiences and new friendships”. In addition to the friendships made amongst fellow players, one would hope that the chance to meet their sponsors this morning provided the boys of these two teams with further friendships to take away from the fortnight.

Back at Oxygen Park things were gearing up for the vital second day of Group Stage fixtures, an afternoon on which fates in the tournament would be sealed. In the opening matches of the day, a composed Bolivia girls team beat Indonesia 2-0 while a rampant Pakistan boys thumped Qatar 8-0. Pakistan went on to win their second game later in the day against Bosnia, and look almost certain to be involved in the business end of the tournament come Saturday.

Egypt overcame a resilient Tanzanian outfit in the boys’ tournament shortly afterwards, while on pitch 2 in the girls’ tournament it was Philippines who were catching the eye. A fluent 6-1 victory over Qatar ensured that many kept their predictions that Philippines would be the biggest threat to pre-tournament favourites and two-time winners Brazil.

England boys overcame yesterday’s disappointments to defeat India 1-0 courtesy of a thunderous strike, while Hungary eased past Nepal and Sudan and Burundi faced a 0-0 stalemate. In the girls’ tournament there were further wins for Peru and Bolivia, as the map of the knockout stages really began to take shape in earnest.

With teams really starting to gel after a few matches together, the goals kept flying in on both pitches, with resounding wins for Syria and Tanzania in the boys’ tournament, as well as Brazil and USA in the girls’. The standard of football was improving all the time, and the large crowds certainly approved.

The football pauses until Saturday now, but we have seen some electrifying action over the past 48 hours. Several teams – both boys and girls – have made their case to be champions. But who will be lifting the Street Child World Cup trophies on Saturday? Only time will tell.