A remarkable competition ends today in one of the only truly worldwide sports. The Homeless World Cup of Football has featured 64 national teams – made up exclusively of homeless people – competing in lightning-quick, brilliant 4-v-4 street soccer on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
An amazing adjunct to this competition is that Bebe, the 20-year-old Portuguese striker who recently made his debut for Manchester United, was only last year spotted while playing for the Portuguese national team…that’s the Portuguese homeless national team. Bebe himself grew up dirt-poor on the streets of Lisbon, living in a shelter near a church and staying out of serious trouble by throwing himself into the world’s game like so many other street kids in the poor quarters of cities all over the developing world.
Bebe’s inspirational account (rendered beautifully by Steven Brunt in The Globe and Mail) is just one of hundreds that make up the full story of this month’s tourney in Rio.