History in the making at the Homeless World Cup!

The title of this post might sound a bit dramatic, but that’s what we’ve done with the Homeless World Cup 2016 – made a bit of Fairtrade history! The event was the first ever international football tournament to be played with Fairtrade balls, and we, along with our joint official ball sponsor and fellow co-op, Scotmid are very proud to have helped make this happen. And we really do take our hats off to HWC President Mel Young and his team for wanting to use Fairtrade balls.

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It won’t be the last time either, we’re already in talks with the HWC about continuing the partnership in Oslo next year and beyond.

We were delighted with the exposure at the tournament in George Square Glasgow. It was hard to not be facing an image of a Bala ball, or indeed a ball on the 3 pitches and being kicked about under trees in the square.

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Two prominent goal-side banners on each of the 3 pitches.

HWC Brochure Pages

In the event programme Bala appeared on not one but 5 pages, including in 2 full page ads (alongside our co-sponsor and fellow co-operative, Scotmid).





Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon with Angus from Bala Sport

Even before the event kicked off some high profile people were getting their hands on Bala Homeless World Cup balls including HRH Prince William, who sent a special video message of support to the players at the event.  The photo below  appeared in the Times and some other newspapers.


Footballing “royalty” have also been experiencing Bala Fairtrade balls for the Homless World Cup. This is Emmanuel Petit (below) who won the World Cup for France in 1998 by scoring the final goal. Emmanuel is now an HWC Ambassador.

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Emmanuel Petit (above)

The Homeless World Cup appeared in articles in 200 different media across the world and  was streamed live on the internet to an estimated 200m viewers and was broadcast on STV in Scotland. In a high proportion of the photos and the video footage of matches the Bala Fairtrade ball obviously featured strongly, as it did in the pre-event coverage of the live draw.


HWC Draw Coverage Pics

Scotland men’s and women’s football managers Gordon Strachan and Anna Signeul

HWC STV Daily Mail pic

Pic from the Daily Mail

Click on the photo below to watch the short STV Glasgow interview with Angus (there’s an ad at the start).

HWC Angus on STV Screen Grab

As well as enjoying exposure at the tournament venue and in the media, we were networking with teams and other visitors. We managed to grab chats with representatives of FIFA and UEFA and spread the word, in the hope that we might eventually filter through to the powers that be in the game. These included Patrick Gasser, Senior Corporate Social Reponsibity Manager with UEFA.

It was great to meet Honey Thaljieh, a Corporate Communications Manager with FIFA. Honey was there to tell her personal story of how she became  co-founder and first ever captain of the Palestinian Women’s National Football Team. She’s a role model for women and girls in the middle east, having started playing football at age 7 on the streets of Bethlehem with the dream of becoming a player. After captaining the national team for 7 years she retired from playing due to injury and switched to empowering women in the game.


Honey Thaljieh with Ryan Mackie, CEO Homeless World Cup.

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Having developed the spec of the Homeless World Cup ball, the Bala Astro with David Duke (2nd from right above) and his team at Street Soccer Scotland we were confident we had a good ball. It was still good though to get some great feedback from some of the players, coaches, referees and representatives of the national bodies in Glasgow from 52 different countries.

Winners of the womens’ and men’s Homeless World Cup 2016, Mexico are very keen on the Bala Astro ball (even before they won). Here’s a video showing their victory and their thoughts on the Fairtrade match ball.

Here’s Homeless World Cup President, Mel Young and why he wanted Fairtrade balls from Bala Sport as the tournament’s match ball.

The Argentinian womens team, who netted the Women’s Plate trophy in Glasgow are especially excited to play with Fairtrade balls, and the Welsh team who won the Men’s Shield like the balls to, as did everyone we spoke to. Here’s some more positive comment on the balls.

It was good to get some support from our friends at the Scottish Fairtrade Forum who spent a day at the tournament. These guys sure know how to dress for an event. Check out the outfits from Colleen and Meri – great awareness raising effort!


The girls are standing in front of the Bala Sport speed cage, in association with our fellow co-op, Scotmid. There were constant queues from visitors and players to try to out-do each other in kick speed. The cage was provided by our pals at St Mirren FC and manned by coaches Mark and Shaun (below), who did a great job in engaging with the public and players.

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They might have missed out on the Homeless World Cup title against the mighty Mexico, but Brazil player Joao remained unbeaten in the Bala speed cage challenge, the fastest striker in George Square with 73.2 mph recorded by the radar. Well done Joao – he took away a bala Astro ball as a small token of recognition for his skill.

Here’s a few of my favourite images from the tournament.

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This last pic sums the event up for me, it’s all about people coming together through the football, not about earning huge salaries or even being particularly good at playing. You can see a whole heap of great pics from this amazing event in our gallery. And check out the action from the matches on the Homeless World Cup Website.