That’s right, some England players do know how to take a penalty... at the Homeless World Cup in Italy.
People who are homeless and socially excluded are enjoying a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent their country and change their lives forever.
This annual international football tournament was first held in Graz in 2003. 18 national teams took part. Just six years later and 48 nations have come together for Milan 2009.
The event now supports grass roots football projects in over 60 nations and works with over 25,000 homeless and socially excluded people throughout the year.
Teams from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are squaring up against the likes of Argentina, Germany, South Africa and Spain.
They play Street Soccer on courts 22m long by 16m wide. The maximum number of players on a team at any one time is four (three outfield and one goalkeeper). Halves last 14 minutes and winning teams receive three points. Drawn matches are decided by a sudden-death penalty shoot out.
In this year’s tournament England advanced through the Preliminary stage after winning four games and scoring 37 goals in Group D.
Yesterday the Secondary group stage saw England draw 3 – 3 with Rumania before winning a thrilling penalty shoot out. Earlier in the day the team had lost 4 – 2 against Portugal. Matches against Hungary and the Ukraine take place today.
After the Secondary stage, the teams are split into six groups of eight according to their results. England will be hoping to become one of the top eight ranking sides to play for the official Homeless World Cup trophy.
Let’s hope the players involved in a penalty shoot in South Africa can cope just as well.
For more on the Homeless World Cup visit http://www.homelessworldcup.org/