Episode 1 of Street Kid World Cup kicked off on BBC3 this week. A team of girls approaching adulthood embark on an emotional, eventful and life changing journey as they represent England at a football tournament in Brasil. Our TV screens are drowning in a sea of programmes with young girls and boys heading to Kavos with their parents watching to see what they are getting up to, this insightful documentary couldn’t be more different. Football kits in place of bikinis and finding new family ties in a place they could have only dreamed of once.
This group of teenage girls come from the care home system, their personalities are very different but what binds them is not just the negative aspects of their lives but something that is hard for anyone looking into the care home window to see; the belief that they can grow into achieving women. As varied as their backgrounds are, they all seem to understand each other in a way that no one else can even when fear, anger, frustration and defeat have become familiar cycles of life.
The Street Kid World Cup is an organization which in 2014 invited 230 former street kids from 19 countries to take part in a football tournament. It is very hard for these kids to relax, trust and let their guard down but as you watch the documentary you see that these girls begin to soften and accept. This became obvious as they traveled on a coach full of girls from other teams to visit Christ the Redeemer and as is synonymous with the effervescent Brasilian culture, the essentials for breaking down barriers and getting through desperate times is to dance and sing.
The Brasilian girls started their own party on the coach in the hope that all the girls would join in and after being met initially by the metaphorical free kick wall, the sound of Samba and the glow of the green and yellow was too strong. Team England couldn’t resist any longer, the frowns turned into smiles and their firmly wedged feet began to tap to the beat. You can’t blame them for wearing their protective coat like a strait-jacket but what came across was the sense of freedom they were experiencing from the release of those irritating buckles.
Kids don’t always have it easy, the transition from child to adult is difficult enough but for these kids who have lost parents through war, illness or have been taken away for their own protection and well-being life is even tougher. Family for a child is everything; organisations like Street Kid World Cup not only provides them with an unforgettable experience but more, introduces them to family in a whole new form.
Watching episode 2 has thrown up memories of my childhood and how, at the time, I couldn’t see a way forward. Back then, the support was limited with a ‘don’t get involved’ attitude so for me, it’s so encouraging to see that things are very different now. The common ailment for all these kids are the fractures off the pitch as well as on it and the hope is that the healing process can start sooner rather than later. TEAM KIDS!