Tag Archives: Homeless World Cup

Aisling O’Grady: Shooting star at the Homeless World Cup in Rio

Aisling O'Grady at the Homeless World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Fiona Crawford

Danielle Batist, Contributing writer

Last week, more than 400 homeless and low-income soccer players from 55 countries came together in Brazil to compete in the Homeless World Cup. In a stadium in Rio de Janeiro, teams squared off, doing themselves and their country proud.

Portland’s own Aisling O’Grady, 21, is one of the players of the USA Women’s Team. Danielle Batist caught up with her in the middle of the action at the world famous Copacabana Beach, where Aisling was dealing with the intensity of the competition, and a bout of homesickness. O’Grady was featured in the Oregonian last week.

Danielle Batist: How do you feel being here at the Homeless World Cup in Rio?

Aisling O’Grady: “I feel pretty good. It is a lot of fun and it is great to see so many people from different countries play.”

D.B.: What did you think when you heard you were selected for the national team?

A.O.: “I was happy and surprised. I have always loved playing soccer and played from a young age. It felt like a great chance. I was excited about it.”

D.B.: Getting the chance to play for your country in a place like Brazil is one not many people will get. How do you feel about that?

A.O.: “I actually feel like I don’t deserve it. It is such a great honor and I wonder how this can happen to me. It is a dream come true.”

D.B.: What was the biggest challenge for you?

A.O.: “To be away from my family and friends. This is the first time I have been away all by myself and I really miss them. My family wish they were here to watch me play. I have been a bit homesick, but the team coaches have helped me to get through that.”

D.B.: What is it like to play in an all-girls team?

A.O.: “It is a different experience for me. Back in Portland I always play in a team with boys. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we are bonding well as a team. I am definitely enjoying it.”

D.B.: What will you do when you are back in Portland?

A.O.:“I am not sure yet. I would like to maybe study or do a course or something so I will look into that. I will definitely keep playing soccer. It helps me to focus on the positive things life.”

April Fools: Homeless team courted for new Major League soccer stadium

3073864338_961c9fde8e_oFrom the April 1 edition of Street Roots. (The April Fools edition was one of the most popular Street Roots ever published. We sold out of the newspaper in a week and ordered more. It’s on the streets for two more days – get your copy while it’s hot!)

Homeless residents across Portland chanted and sang for 40 minutes Thursday after news spread that a homeless soccer team was being courted for the new Major League Soccer stadium. Police issued 86 citations.

The Homeless World Cup is traditionally a street soccer event, played in pitches, but as the popularity of soccer grows, along with homelessness, the expectation is that homeless teams could become a regular feature at the new stadium. Homeless people are not allowed to play soccer on Portland’s streets.

The new team’s presence is expected to draw worldwide attention among the homeless community. Past Homeless World Cup events in Edinburgh, Scotland; Copenhagen, Denmark; and most recently in Melbourne, Australia, attracted tens of thousands of players and spectators — most of them living in extreme poverty and on the streets — to the host cities.

“We are elated with the news,” said Ismella Ratones, an avid soccer fan experiencing homelessness. “I know it hasn’t been formally announced yet, but we know the city needs more resources for the homeless, and a new sports venue seems like the answer we’ve been waiting for.” Continue reading