Archive for September, 2010

The World Cup is over…

Monday, September 27th, 2010

SAMH member Iain McGill provides his last blog on the Homeless World Cup, looking back on a fantastic tournament that SAMH was proud to be involved in.

“Well, they´re dancing on the street of Brasil tonight – a Brasilian double as my prediction of a Chile win in the Homeless World Cup final shows exactly what I know about the game!

Brasil won empahtically, and deservedly. Their women were ran closer but still nudged in ahead of Mexico in the women’s final, and the partying really kicked off when the men made it a double for the home nation.

Seats in the packed stands were at a premium, and it was good to see Scotland there early with Ireland to secure prime spots for the big finals – with them not having a game today they could have fallen for any of Rio’s distractions, but had no intention of doing anything but supporting the other teams in the finals!

We got it all over with just in time – the heavens opened just after the finals and the awards ceremony had to be moved indoors! When it rains in Rio, it really rains!

The boys fly home tomorrow. I´m looking forward to following the progress in their lives as the impact of the tournament hopefully becomes clear – they are a great bunch, and have been great ambassadors for Scotland.

SAMH and The Harmony Employment Agency can fight it out next year to be the team’s sponsors – I reckon it´s well worthwhile, and will use my last sentance of my last blogpost to sign off with a big thank you to SAMH for the support they provided – making it possible for the guys to get the opportunity to get involved, and see the positive power that sport has to make a difference in folk’s lives!

Over and out – I’m off for a week’s holiday now!”

No world cup, but victory nonetheless

Sunday, September 26th, 2010
Iain McGill continues his blog from the Homeless World Cup in Brazil.
“It´s all been worthwhile from a football viewpoint! The competition for Scotland is all over, bar the shouting, but boy do we have something to shout about! Our last game was the big derby – the grudge match vs England! And we won, 11-10 in probably the best match so far in the Homeless World Cup.
Check out the YouTube clip  if you’ve a spare 15 minutes, to watch as great an advertisment for our form of football as you can possibly want to see! It´s great the video’s up, as it settles one argument in the Scotland camp. Liam claimed he scored six and Ryan only five, but Ryan claimed HE scored six and Liam only five. Only one of them is telling the truth – watch it and find out! (Liam is the tall one with dark hair, Ryan shorter and blonde).
The banter around the team is brilliant – after beating England in such dashing style, when both teams threw any idea of defence out of the window and attacked, attacked, attacked, they were teasing David, the goalie, for slipping 10 against England! For the record, David has had a great tour, and had a top game!
Scotland, England and Ireland have formed a real mutual appreciation society though, really supporting each other well. It´s nice to see teams supporting each other!
The big final tomorrow is Brasil vs Chile – Brasil are favourites. They beat Chile in the opening game – by only one goal – and I slightly fancy Chile to revenge that defeat! I get to be a spectator, the referee is from South Africa, his assistants from Holland & Denmark, so I´ll be in the stand enjoying two great teams hopefully score a bunch of goals!
Brasil can make it a double, with their women’s team playing Mexico in the final just beforehand. I think the temporary stands would collapse if Brasil did the double – they have some great support!
Tomorrow is a short day for the refs, with only seven games. We´re hoping the weather holds out because we fancy a swim afterwards before the big last night party – lots of Guarana to drink and Samba music to keep us moving!”

Still plenty to play for

Saturday, September 25th, 2010
SAMH member Iain McGill continues his blog from the Homeless World Cup.
“A long hot day on the Copacabana saw some more dreams of glory ended – there are now only four countries that can win the Homeless World Cup this year – Portugal, Chile, Mexico & the home nation Brasil. The other teams still play tomorrow for some of the minor cups, and their overall ranking positions, but home advantage seems to be helping. Three of the four semi finalists come from the Americas and the only other one speaks Portuguese like, well, natives?
Scotland had a tough loss to South Africa today – on penalties – always a lottery. They are taking it on the chin, but it´s always nicer to win rather than lose!
From today’s refereeing point of view Ghana were today’s bad losers, and the main laughter has been with our Italian referee Luca Sarsano. He doesn´t speak English, but has been picking up some interesting vocabulary from the teams, and is often asking us to translate words that could not be published on a respectable website like this one!
It´s interesting what people know about each others countries, and seeing teams find out about each other’s. Football is often the starting point – the Lithuanian team like to talk about Hearts and Vladimir Romanov to me, the South Koreans like to ask about their countrymen at Celtic, the Greeks like to ask about Takis Fyssas and Samaras etc.
But then folks talk about the condidtions in their own countries – most people know about Haiti & Palestine’s troubles, but what is it really like there? What´s it like to be homeless in Cambodia, or Russia, or Kenya or Chile? What support do they have?
Do they have organisations like SAMH? Do Governments help?
With 55 teams competing there is a lot to learn!”

Blogging from Brazil

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Iain McGill continues his daily blog, giving a referee’s perspective of the Homeless World Cup.

“Oh Scotland, oh Scotland – if the Homeless World Cup matches were one minute long Scotland would be world champs. Again. Today we beat Italy. Then lost to Poland. Played eight, won four, lost four. Not world cup winning form. But in every game we have taken the lead!   The win against Italy was well deserved, and an encouraging start to the day. When I saw Scotland coming into the HWC village I knew they meant business, they were looking mean & focused! That was great for the first game, but then Poland also were lean, mean & focused – and, at the end of the day, were the better team. They always have great support – we´ve had homeless world cups from Cape Town to Milan, Melbourne to Copenhagen, Edinburgh to Rio and  the Poles always have a noisy support!  

We really are into the business end of things now – and people’s characters do start coming out! From the ref’s changing room the chat was all about Belgium – playing well, undefeated going into today, possibly with the best player in the tournament with their striker. I would love to see him play 11s, he´s a real talent.  Belgium raced into a five-goal lead against South Africa then threw it away and ended up losing by five goals. They had been great when they were winning, but when they lost they were really upset and angry with everything and everyone – not least the Australian referee, who had done a great job (if you lose a game by five clear goals, that is more than the influence any referee has!)   Ireland & England both had great wins today. Chile and Mexico keep on winning, but both the Brasil teams (there is a men’s and a women’s tournament)  remain unbeaten. They are becoming favourites – but the competition is stiff!   Manchester United have sent a coach over to work with all the teams this week – a very generous gesture – and he is kept busy working with all the teams. He´s doing a great job. The organisation have him staying with us refs though – he reckons Fergie will be furious when he finds out – he hates refs!!!   Last night was Vasco vs Botafogo. Tonight the entertainment is dinner with fellow contributor to the SAMH website Danielle Batist and the International Network of Street Papers team. We´ll be sure to talk about SAMH!

Homeless World Cup update – Day 4

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
Iain McGill continues his reports from Brazil at the Homeless World Cup
“Day 4 over – what a day! Our name is not on the cup this year it seems – we´ll need to wait until Paris 2011 to win it again after 2 losses today give us a 3 game losing streak.
We´ve been ahead in every game, scoring goals for fun, but have not been able to hold out. Against Belgium yesterday, and Russia this morning we were unlucky, and could have won ourselves.
I am afraid against Ireland we were 2nd best – and well beaten. Ireland really are playing well! Scotland have more tough games tomorrow – fingers crossed the SAMH sponsored tops bring them some luck again!
Lost of things have started to give in the tournament now – clashes between unbeaten teams in the top half of the draw testing teams on the park and off – how people deal with with winning and losing is interesting to see – coaches as well as players!
At the bottom of the draw it´s also pitching teams together who are fighting it out for the wooden spoon – clashes between teams who have not won a game yet are also fun to referee – lots of joy and a little relief when teams finally get a win on the board!
Rio is an amazing city – but it´s not the safest – security is todays talking point – Mel Young, the Homeless World Cup founder & President was walking near to the tournament yesterday with his wife when a gun fight broke out in the middle of the street, “like something out of the wild west” everbody hit the deck and were hiding behind cars etc.
A couple guys in the New Zealand team were robbed at knifepoint on the beach, and one of Scottish volunteers was pickpocketed at the Vasco vs Botafogo game tonight – a regular crime spree! Nobody has been hurt, but we´re all growing eyes in the back of our heads!
The tournament is hurtling on – half way through already, 4 days of solid refereeing, and I´ve not had to red card anybody – the spirit in the tournament really is amazing! Hopefully I can make it through the next 4 days without needing it!”

The first defeat, but still plenty to play for

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
SAMH member Iain McGill continues his blog from Brazil, where he is refereeing at the Homeless World Cup.
“Mixed news from sunny Rio. Scotland lost their undefeated record today, losing narrowly to Belgium, who have managed to get through 3 days without losing – no mean feat!
This does not mean all is lost – Scotland played well, lost narrowly,  could easily have won, and should be confident if they end up meeting Belgium again, but it is a shame to see their perfect record go.
They progress all the same, and in their next group the big fixtures are the games with Poland and Ireland. If Scotland are on their games, they´ll win through, but if they are off the pace just a little they´ll drop out of the running.
I’m just glad we´re in the mix in the top half of the draw. There is a wide variation of standards of players and teams here in Rio, but make no mistake – our team is a good team.
It´s not all doom and gloom for the team though – after the game the Scotland manager Dr David Duke (he was once referred to publicly as the David Beckham of The Homeless World Cup, and recently received an honorary doctorate) took the guys for a swim in the idyllic setting of the Copacabana, then cooked them all dinner tonight – tomorrow they´ll be rested, relaxed, focused, and fingers crossed will win the big games they´re facing!
From my point of view the day went well. My twin jobs are to referee – and there was no great controversy today, a good sign as the refs never want to be the story – and also be on the sporting commitee of the Homeless World Cup. Along with a few others, we are responsible  for all sporting aspects of our competition. That side is also going well!
Look out for potential future blogs featuring topics like the differences between the men’s tournament and the women’s, and why Scotland won or lost!”

Refereeing in Rio: day 2

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

As Scotland continue their unbeaten run at the Homeless World Cup, SAMH member Iain McGill continues his blog direct from Brazil, where is refereeing at the tournament.

“Day two is over – and Scotland are still undefeated! A referee is supposed to remain neutral, but there is a very good reason that we are not allowed to referee at our own country’s games – I might be a little biased!

It seems that SAMH’s sponsorship of the team is proving lucky – they had two good wins today, in dramatic games! The game with Namibia featured no less than six penalties. Scotland were awarded four, and scored 100% – but in their second game today they were awarded one and missed 100%!

Scotland tried badly to throw the second game away, not just missing a penalty, but having two players sinbinned! They held out in the end, and hopefully learned some lessons!

Scotland, England, Ireland, Kenya, Brasil, Poland & Palestine still are looking impressive as the men’s tournament progresses, as are Mexico, who along with Brasil are the early favourites in the women’s tournament racking up win after win. The Mexican story shows some of the big differences between various countries.

I helped, in a small way, the Scotland manager Davie Duke to run Street Soccer Scotland with the trials/selection process in Scotland. We were really thorough and professional, with trials in Inverness, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh – right across our great country. Lots of SAMH services helped and we ended up with a team full of great guys with bags of talent and potential.

Mexico ran trials in 32 cities across Mexico! No wonder they are looking so good! Scotland doesn´t have close to 32 cities!

Mexico’s fans are still the noisiest – so far. But the crowd’s favourites seem to come from South Korea . They are 500-1 shots to win the big trophy, but have a couple of cult heroes – especially the goalkeeper! A real character, and no spring chicken!

The main danger today was sunburn. Being a Scot I am a lovely shade of beetroot, despite copious amounts of factor 30. Just added that to make you all jealous back home!”

Postcard from Brazil

Monday, September 20th, 2010

As you’ll know if you’ve been keeping an eye on the SAMH website, we are proudly supporting the Scottish team at the Homeless World Cup in Brazil. SAMH member and director of Harmony Employment Iain McGill is a referee at the tournament, and he’s kindly agreed to provide regular updates from Rio, exclusively for the SAMH blog. Here’s his first dispatch, following Scotland’s 9-7 victory over Hungary.

“I got involved with the Homeless World Cup five years ago when it was held in Edinburgh. My background working in International Aid & homeless projects around Scotland allied to my newly aquired referee’s badge made me a natural to get one of the refereeing gigs – and I feel very lucky that five years later it has taken me to Rio to referee!

I have been helping the Scotland team this year at some of their training camps. It´s been great seeing them progress and see them get more and more excited as the events progress. Getting selected for the squad – getting their SAMH branded kit – their faces in the newspaper – seeing the Copacabana for the first time – and today, winning their opening match!

If I thought I was anywere exotic the Scottish team are keeping me grounded – I was walking along the Copacabana beach on Friday, hoping to see the sights, some Brazilian culture, but all I found were the Scottish team, milk bottle white, SAMH branded tops cast aside on the sand, playing head tennis and talking just like any old team back home!

Today I had the pleasure of refereeing the match between Ghana & Kenya – in Rio! Heady, exotic stuff – except for the fact that Scotland were playing on the next pitch – all I could hear were Scottish accents shouting from the next pitch!

Seriously, really pleased Scotland won today – a tight game, they almost threw it away. England & Ireland won as well; the home nations doing well.

Mexico are the most colourful supporters though – noisy & sporting wrestling matches, they have made an impression! Their teams (they have teams in the men’s & women’s competition) are both loking very strong.

They will give Scotland a run for their money, as will Palestine & Kenya. It´s one of the great things about the tournament – Scotland, Palestine & Mexico have a good chance of actually winning – unlike the big World Cup – Scotland & Palestine for example would just be happy to qualify!”

Towards a manifesto for Mental Health

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Scotland goes to the polls to elect a new Parliament on 5 May 2011; even though a week is a long time in politics, and the election is ‘ages away’, all the parties are already thinking about their campaigns. The summer holidays will have been spent with focus groups and party members, working out that all-important catchy slogan. Opinion polls have been changing on a weekly basis; some days see Labour far ahead of the SNP, other days show them level pegging. The impact of the ‘Coalition effect’ on the Scottish Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, whether positive or negative, cannot yet be measured.

With the conclusion of Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland due in 2011, and the targets set by Delivering for Mental Health all but completed, there is a big ‘unknown’ about what comes next for mental health policy in Scotland. Future cuts to the public sector means that there are real challenges to delivering both acute care and support in the community, as well as the wider mental health promotion work that is so fundamental. SAMH research showed last year that the recession had had a negative impact on people’s mental health; there is a danger that services will be reduced at the very time more people need them.

In this moment of insecurity and uncertainty, the economic argument for a joined up, efficient and effective strategy for mental health in Scotland is plain. We have spent the past few months speaking to staff and service users about the changes they would like to see, and will be consulting with our members shortly. SAMH has been in talks with all the parties about our solutions to the difficult times ahead, and we will be producing a manifesto for mental health ahead of the election campaign. Watch this space!

Rachel Stewart, Political and Parliamentary Officer.

What a week!

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Hi everyone, Carolyn Roberts here, back on the blog again. It’s been quite a week here at SAMH, so I wanted to take a couple of minutes to tell you a bit about it.

Last week was Suicide Prevention Week, so there were events going on all over Scotland. Scotland’s national suicide prevention strategy is Choose Life, and its team did a great job of making sure the week got good coverage in the media. Here at SAMH we had several events running: they were all excellent, but one that I particularly want to tell you about is the fundraising bike ride from Dumfries to Glasgow.

This was led by the brother and cousin of Pam Tate, who took her own life last year after a long struggle with mental illness. The Tate family have been fundraising for SAMH all year and I was pleased to be able to show my appreciation by cycling the last couple of miles with the team. (I’m afraid the full 64 miles was beyond me: I’ve managed 50 a couple of times, but that was when I was younger and stupider!)

The team, led by Bruce and Fraser, were in good spirits as we crossed the line, and Pam’s family, friends and colleagues from Glasgow Caledonian University were out in force to support the riders. I’ve been so struck by the resilience and selflessness of the whole family, and it truly was an honour to be alongside them at the finish line. The ride has raised well over £5,000 so far, and you can still make a donation.

The other big event for me last week was getting to attend the final training session of the Scottish Homeless World Cup team, who we’re delighted to be supporting. It was brilliant to see how dedicated and focussed the whole team is in the run-up to their journey out to Brazil. We’ll be adding regular progress updates to our website, so do keep an eye out for that.

All in all, it’s been another hectic and inspiring week that’s reminded me yet again just what a privilege it is to do this job. Don’t tell my boss I said that, though…