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California hosts homeless Worldcup

Homeless world cup   -  
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For a week, athletes playing in an international street-style soccer tournament in Sacramento, California can forget their problems and concentrate on competing.

They're taking part in the Homeless World Cup, being held in the U.S. for the first time since the event began twenty years ago.

Every player on the pitch has experienced homelessness in the past two years.

Pedro Vega, Player, Team USA shared his story:

"I left my mom's house at 15 because of family problems, household issues. Moved in with my grandma. Had more problems, then went to the shelter. Now I'm just trying to live my life, work. I have two kids now. I'm trying to maintain. Not every day, I feel happy for something, you know? And this is a blessing to be here right now and spending time with my team, meeting new people from different countries. It feels amazing."

Teams from 40 countries are competing in this year's event, including Ukraine which is fielding a team including players who have been displaced from their homes due to the ongoing war.

Ukrainian Dmytro Shcherba, from team Ukraine expressed concerns for relatives back home; "It's difficult with people dying in the war. Our families are back in Ukraine. There are air alarms often. We're here representing our country and showing people that we're strong, but we call home worry about our families and loved ones."

Organizers say the cup's mission is to help the players improve their lives and change public perceptions about homelessness.

Many players credit the structure of being a part of a team in helping them secure stable housing and making plans for a job or school.

 Mel Young, Co-Founder & President, Homeless World Cup said; Sometimes when you have homeless people in your front doors at work, you think it's only a problem affecting you. But this is a global problem. So and it manifests itself slightly differently. But everywhere in the world now, we've got a problem with homelessness."

The tournament wraps up Saturday. Spectators can watch the matches for free at Sacramento State University.

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