I have to admit, I've been ambivalent every time I read something about the Homeless World Cup. It felt a little exploitative - "Hey, homeless person, come play soccer instead of dealing with whatever problems led to your situation."
Then I read this article and started thinking about exactly what soccer provides. Soccer teaches the importance of teamwork, has these players learn something new, helps motivate them to combine together to succeed. Basic things like showing up on time, listening to instructions and appreciating others are all essential, but more likely to happen when people feel there's a tangible point and purpose. Everyone likes to be needed, and every player on a soccer team - especially when it's four-a-side, is important
Even the basic physiological benefits of exercise, excitement and yes, even a bit of an ego boost from any clapping fans counts for a lot.
If I could feel that way in my little rec league action, how much more might those feelings mean to someone without a home or support structure?