the Mondial des sans abri, a sporting objective at the service of social reintegration

Nearly 80 players in precarious situations clashed in Montpellier on Friday during a pre-selection tournament to try to integrate the team that will defend the colors of France at the next Homeless World Cup .

“Together Guys”, “If we can win 20-0, we win 20-0 guys”, “Moussa, if you miss the penalty, you go home on foot”… From the outside, the good humor and the cliches shouted by the coaches on the benches suggest that this is a football tournament like any other. For the 80 players present, Friday, May 12, at the Grammont complex, where Montpellier HSC has its quarters, this day is nevertheless of capital importance.

Among them, only eight will be selected to accompany the women’s team and represent France at the Homeless World Cup, the World Cup for the homeless, organized from July 8 to 15 in Sacramento (United States). To participate, a single condition: to have been in contact with a social structure of reception during the last two years. Invited by the En Jeu collective, four associations therefore brought their teams of beneficiaries to the Hérault.

Like the pros

For the occasion, referees were requisitioned, all the meals were taken care of by the Montpellier associations and medical personnel were made available. “Prince, how’s the thigh? John, the wrist?” Coming to play for the win like last year, the Clermont Collective Sharing and Projects team traveled with “Nico”, its own trainer.

Before the first game of the day, the smell of tiger balm fills the locker room, while the Auvergne educator is busy massaging his players. “Being there for them is above all valuing them. It’s important because the rest of the time, they are isolated. We barely speak to themlaments this social worker. And then I know that I will not be bored: there is enough to do with sores, the street breaks“.

Inclusion through sport

Patrick Mbongue, founder of En Jeu, has been overseeing all preparations for the World Cup for more than a decade. This Friday again, it is in the oven and at the mill. “With this national tournament, we are killing two birds with one stone. Not only are we organizing a festive event that benefits all these people in precarious situations, but it also gives us the opportunity to identify the bestloose the one who is also involved in a CHRS in Montpellier, between two comings and goings from the parking lot to the field.

For this first pre-World Cup meeting, En Jeu wants to limit itself to ten players at the end of the day and make a new selection later, during the gathering planned at Z5, Zinédine Zidane’s complex in Provence. “The main quality we look for in them is the technique to make a difference in small spaces”. specifies Patrick, adjusting his gray cap on his head. Because if the selection tournament takes place on a half-field at 7 against 7, the summer competition has opted for “street soccer” at 4 against 4 with the possibility of using the walls as in five.

The goalkeeper of La Boussole 1, Taha, distinguished himself with a superb save against Avignon 2. (GABRIEL JOLY / FRANCEINFO: SPORT)

Nothing to worry about, Taha, 23, who is precisely achieving prowess in the cages of La Boussole 1, one of the two Montpellier teams. One of the supervisors came to see him to take his name. “I hope this bodes wellsmiles the Moroccan, his chest bulging in his purple shirt. It would be amazing to do the World Cup, especially since I’ve never been to the United States.”. Today, he came to try his luck when he didn’t have a team. “I integrated easily. As a goalkeeper, you communicate a lot with your defence. Football allows you to create links. Before, I was rather withdrawn, it’s often like that when you’re alone”. Arrived in France six years ago, he has long been in a delicate situation. “I didn’t have accommodation so I was staying with colleagues but sometimes some don’t want to anymore and you end up on the street“, he recalls. A journey of precariousness among many others.

A World Cup that changes lives

If he knows that he will make more people disappointed than happy once the list of players is announced, Patrick remains convinced that his action has significant benefits. Whether the players are finally selected or not, the desire to participate in the “Homeless” generally proves to be beneficial for their social integration. “When a guy has this goal, he trains to be on top. However, when you are physically better, when you pay attention to your health, it puts you in another state of mind, a dynamic of remobilization. You will more easily motivate you to carry out administrative procedures, things that you had never bothered to undertake”. Since 2012, 83% of tricolor players sent to the World Cup have not returned to the street according to the En Jeu collective.

“Imagine someone from Quimper or Metz who goes to Sacramento and then meets an Argentinian, a South African and a Japanese in the same situation as him. They will keep in touch via social networks. is not alone.”

Patrick Mbongue, founder of En Jeu

at franceinfo: sport

In 2019, Ashraf was just adventure in Cardiff. “Everyone wanted to take pictures with us. Playing Brazil was pretty crazyremembers the young man of 23 years. We lost but the most important thing with the Homeless is what happens behind it”. Four years later, the former goalkeeper has put away the gloves to become a recruiter and find his successors. But above all he became an educator at the judicial protection of youth (PJJ). A victory for this Nîmes “turbulent” according to him, who was still sleeping in his car at the time. “Honestly, I would never have believed it.recognizes Patrick. Ashraf is the typical example of guys for whom we do social action despite the difficulties”.

The fear of staying at the quay

After three editions canceled due to the pandemic, the members of the NGO are indeed concerned. Two months from the World Cup, they are not sure they can take the group to Sacramento. “The project had grown quite a bit since 2018 and then the Covid did us a lot of harm. This year, we’re starting from zero”, testifies Sophie Buisine, communication manager for the association. Despite generous donations from the Abbé Pierre Foundation and Crédit Agricole, En Jeu has so far only raised half of the €53,000 they are counting on for the trip. In question, the loss of certain historical sponsors, like Nike which equipped the selection.

“Every time I talk about this World Cup, people are fans, they tell me that this project is magnificent… But that’s not what will make us leave. If we had a Mbappé to support us, it’s I’m sure it would be easier!”

Sophie Buisine, communication manager of En Jeu

at franceinfo: sport

“There, I’m talking to you but the money, we don’t have itconfirms Patrick, who is therefore careful that no ball is lost, his “Guy Roux side”. We have asked for partners but we are in the dark. With a smaller budget, we will see what cuts we can make but if the plane tickets to California are too expensive, the mass will be quickly said”. One more problem to manage while the holding of the competition in the United States this year complicates the situation for many homeless people.

Patrick Mbongue is the founder of the association En Jeu. (GABRIEL JOLY / FRANCEINFO: SPORT)

With strict entry criteria – obtaining a visa that is all the more complex for nationals of certain nationalities and the presentation of a clean criminal record – not everyone can be on the trip despite good performance. Some players without French papers have thus been offered to postpone their participation until next year if the reception conditions of the new host country allow it. And this, even if a doubt remains on the presence of France. If the Blues fail to field their teams in 2023, they would lose their place for future editions of the World Cup.

But for the Secours Catholique de Poitiers, the essential is elsewhere. Undefeated in six games and victorious over Clermont 3-1 in the final, the team left with the cup in hand, as during their last visit to Montpellier and without forgetting to chamber. “She will end up overflowing this trophy cabinet”.

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