World Cup builds a home at Federation Square

Melbourne’s Federation Square will be transformed into a spectacular street soccer stadium for the world’s homeless to compete when the Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup kicks off in two weeks time.

Melbourne-s Federation Square will be transformed into a spectacular street soccer stadium for the world-s homeless to compete when the Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup kicks off in two weeks time.

The purpose built stadium will have a total viewing capacity of 2500 people - providing grandstand style seating for 800 people, with additional standing viewing areas to watch all the excitement live on the main screen.

Fed Square stadium will be the centrepiece of the Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup, housing the lion-s share of 349 matches to be played over the week-long tournament from December 1-7.

A further two pitches, with a combined seating capacity of 2,500 will be built along the river at Birrarung Marr, to be called Melbourne and Yarra Pitches.

56 national teams, including eight all-female teams, will unite in Melbourne for the sixth annual Homeless World Cup - a unique sporting event which uses the positive power of sport to change the lives of homeless and marginalised people from around the globe.

The stadiums will be an unmissable feature of Melbourne-s landscape, providing a spectacular backdrop for homeless and marginalised people from around the world to compete for Homeless World Cup glory.

Fed Square Chief Executive Kate Brennan said today “we are delighted that Fed Square has been chosen as the home for this international event and welcome the unique use of the site to showcase the immense skill and capacity of these athletes, despite their personal challenges.”

The Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup engineering team were faced with their own challenges in designing the pitches, including compensating for a dramatic slope on Federation Square-s cobblestone surface.

Homeless World Cup Operations Manager Matt Gronow said it had taken almost nine months of planning to configure the design and layout of Fed Square stadium.

“Our number one challenge was to create a level playing field on the Fed Square surface. The stadium will feature a raised platform, surrounded by grandstand style seating, that will provide a first-class playing and viewing area for this inspirational event,” Mr Gronow said.

Street soccer matches are played on a pitch measuring 22 m x 16 m and consist of two seven-minute halves, with four players per side on pitch - three field players and one in goal.

Teams competing are made up of homeless and marginalized people from across the globe who have come through national grassroots soccer programs and seized the once- in- a lifetime chance to represent their country and improve their lives.

A study of players form previous Homeless World Cups has shown that over 70 per cent of players significantly change their lives, including finding employment and accommodation, coming off drugs and alcohol and reconnecting with their families.

The Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup takes place from 1-7 December, with matches played from 11am-7pm daily. Entry to the event is free.

For more information visit www.homelessworldcup.org.