Having attended the 2018 and 2019 Homeless World Cups in Mexico and Wales as a partner, we were delighted when the announcement was made that the Homeless World Cup was set to return in 2023 and be held in Sacramento, California.
For PlayerData, this is an unmissable event. We’ve had a long-lasting relationship with the team at the Homeless World Cup, and each year we strive to bring even more to the tournament. It is an event that is close to our hearts, and especially so for our COO, as it’s the reason she joined PlayerData in the first place.
The Homeless World Cup showcases some incredible talent, and even better camaraderie and support. It is an inspiring event - whether you are volunteering, playing or spectating. The Homeless World Cup has a clear mission: to use the passion of football to support and inspire people who are homeless to change their own lives; and to change perceptions and attitude towards people who are experiencing homelessness.
As a growing company with community at the heart of everything we, it was an honour to be able to support the event through our time and technology. This year, we kitted out the most recent hosts - USA, Wales and Mexico men’s and women’s teams - with PlayerData GPS units and collected their data across each of their games. The goal was to give the players insight into how they were playing, giving them access to their performance metrics, and to use that data for leaderboards, player cards and education during and after the event. Beth Gray, Chief Operating Officer at PlayerData, commented on the 18th edition of the annual tournament:
“This is my favourite event of the year. Having joined PlayerData off the back of a volunteering stint with them at their first ever Homeless World Cup, I knew that no matter where we ended up as a company, the Homeless World Cup was a life-long partner of ours. It was a joy to get to know the individual players and work with them on the field again this year. They are incredibly talented and to be able to treat them as the professionals they are by giving them our technology is an honour. Each year we come back and feel we’ve managed to add a little extra value than the year before, so I look forward to continuing this with our partnership and personally, being able to continue to meet such passionate and talented players.”
It was a mixed response when we first turned up on the field, with some teams slightly more hesitant than others, but we very quickly had everyone up and running and desperate to see the changes to the PlayerData leaderboard each day. The week was packed with non-stop action on the pitches, with players displaying exceptional skill, camaraderie, and sportsmanship. Teams showcased their passion for the game, entertaining the crowd with exciting matches, penalties, and some nail-biting comebacks.
The stats speak for themselves, with Mexico’s Ana Karen smashing it across multiple fronts earning her the top player in all but one of the women’s PlayerData Leaderboards and the title of Most Valuable Player (MVP). Callum Davidson of Wales secured a top spot on the men’s PlayerData Leaderboard for his high intensity running (clocking up an impressive 301 yards) and securing the title of MVP thanks to a great overall output.
The culmination of the tournament arrived with the highly anticipated finals. The Mexico women's team secured an unprecedented eighth consecutive title, defeating Chile in a tense match. The Mexican men's team, however, faced a strong challenge from Chile. Conceding defeat after what can only be described as an intense finale where the anticipation was palpable, resulting in Chile securing the title in this year's men's championship.
It’s fair to say that everyone who took part in this year's Homeless World Cup displayed the determination and passion of true winners. There were numerous awards to be had, recognising the teams that showed determination and spirit throughout the tournament, with the likes of the US women's team defeating Denmark to lift the Nelsen Way Award.
The 2023 Homeless World Cup in Sacramento was an exceptional event that demonstrated the transformative power of sport. Through the intense matches, heartwarming moments, and the launch of the Cities Ending Homelessness campaign, the tournament left a lasting impact on players, spectators, and the global community alike.
It was a privilege and honour to continue our partnership with the Homeless World Cup and support the tournament's commitment to creating a better future for those affected by homelessness and inspiring positive change worldwide. As the players return to their respective countries, their journey toward brighter tomorrows continues, fuelled by the unforgettable experiences and connections made during this year’s Homeless World Cup.
Main photo © Anita Mila