A Kettering-based charity has sent two teams to the second Street Child World Cup, which concluded in Brazil yesterday (Sunday, April 6).
Casa Alianza UK’s teams represented Nicaragua in both the boys’ and girls’ tournament.
Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, with 43 per cent of the population living below the UN’s poverty line.
The charity, whose UK headquarters are in Rockingham Road, Kettering, works with homeless children by giving them a chance to join a residential programme and helping to tackle problems such as the pressure to join gangs or other exploitation.
The teams representing the Central American nation entered the tournament, the first edition of which took place in South Africa four years ago, where they joined hundreds of other youngsters from around the world.
The girls team drew 0-0 with England in the round-robin stage before being knocked out 3-1 by hosts and eventual champions Brazil.
The boys recorded a comfortable victory over Argentina but did not make it to the knock-out stage. They also faced the eventual champions, Tanzania, a game which they lost 2-0.
Fred Shortland, CEO of Casa Alianza UK, said: “We are thrilled to be participating in what really is a life changing opportunity for our children who were at one time homeless ,abandoned and without hope.
“It was an amazing experience, beyond our wildest imagination we could have never dreamed it possible that after participating in the inaugural Street Child World Cup each and every child was successfully reunited with their families and has moved forward in such a positive way to, education, job training and independent living.
“It has been a tremendous struggle to raise the funds as our sponsor failed to deliver leaving us almost high and dry but thanks to our amazing supporters it all came good and the children enjoyed an experience of a life time.”
Valentina, 15, from Nicaraguan capital Managua, said: “The best thing has been meeting so many children from different countries and to know that my voice had power and I can choose who I want to be.”
The Casa Alianza children met Brazilian former Arsenal star Gilberto Silva and Alex Ellis, British ambassador to Brazil.
For more information on Casa Alianza, click here.