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The Week That Was #178… 5 peeks behind the week at Working Word

This week is a special edition of the WTW dedicated to all things Homeless World Cup! This wonderfully unique tournament took place in Cardiff this week and finishes tomorrow and has attracted tens of thousands of spectators over the course of the week. From the opening ceremony, which saw 500 players parade through the capital, to national media coverage telling inspirational player stories, engaging social media content and even an appearance from a Welsh soap opera, it’s been a busy and unforgettable week for us at the Homeless World Cup. Take a look at five highlights from our work there.


1. The Homeless World Cup arrives in Cardiff

Daniel Lipinski

© Daniel Lipinski

It’s been an incredible week with the buzz of the Homeless World Cup being felt across Cardiff as 500 players from nearly 50 countries descended on the capital city for a dazzling and emotional opening ceremony. On Saturday 27th July, huge crowds of supporters and international media gathered at Principality Stadium, the starting point for the parade, before marching through the city centre streets, accompanied by brass and samba bands that brought a real carnival feel to the event. The Homeless World Cup players, from Switzerland to South Korea and over 45 other countries, marched, chanted and danced their way to Bute Park for the opening ceremony with actor and activist Michael Sheen and Mel Young, co-founder of the Homeless World Cup Foundation. The players were entertained by Welsh singers Only Boys Aloud before the Welsh national anthem was sung passionately by singer Shellyann Evans, leaving patriotic tension in the air before Wales’ men’s team took to the pitch for their first match against Denmark.


2. National media descend on the week-long football tournament

National and international media have been watching and covering the Homeless World Cup as players, coaches, referees, organisers and Michael Sheen have all been busy taking part in television, radio and print interviews with the likes of BBC 5live, ITV, S4C, BBC Radio 1, the Guardian, BBC Wales Today, Channel 4, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6, and many more, shining a light on the tournament. On Tuesday, BBC 5live broadcast a 3-hour radio programme with Nihal Arthanayake live from the Homeless World Cup with a panel of guests including Katie Dalton, director of Cymorth Cymru, Wales player Bonny Jewell, Big Issue ambassador Sabrina Cohen-Hatton and Michael Sheen. During the interview, Michael Sheen reiterated that he had done everything possible to ensure that the Homeless World Cup in Cardiff would be a success for those taking part. On Thursday morning, Michael Sheen was interviewed by BBC Radio 2 on the Ken Bruce show and by The Guardian, discussing the tournament and the impact it is having on the 500 players from across the world taking part.


3. Running social at the Homeless World Cup

Alongside the Homeless World Cup Foundation, we’ve been on site every day this week gathering content and managing the Homeless World Cup’s social media channels. This was our opportunity to bring the tournament to life to current and new followers. We used Instagram stories to tell the story of each day offering ‘behind the scenes’ content to followers, highlighting key matches being played, showing the services on site to support players, speaking to spectators and reinforcing key messaging around the players being the heroes of the tournament.

For the first time ever at the Homeless World Cup, there was a music and debate line up supplementing the football. We used Twitter as the vehicle for pushing this line up throughout the tournament. We also used Twitter to share fixtures to an international audience tuning into the live streams across the world and posting our video content produced daily. Twitter followers increased by nearly 2000 over the first five days of the tournament.

Every day we worked with a team of videographers on site to produce a highlights package of footage as well as short player story videos or video clips about the tournament with the aim of getting more spectators to Bute Park. Thanks to the team on site, we had regular professionally shot footage edited by our head of creative James to post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Instagram stories throughout each day of the tournament. 

Importantly across all channels, we had to make sure we were regularly monitoring social to answer questions, engage with spectators posting from the site and share the media coverage we’d secured.


4. Welsh soap opera highlights how opinions can change towards homelessness


© BBC Cymru Wales/Pobol y Cwm

© BBC Cymru Wales/Pobol y Cwm

Pobol y Cwm, with two of its regular characters in tow, visited the Homeless World Cup this week turning the edit around in lightning time to transmit the scenes on Wednesday. The episode also showed us how opinion can be turned around too, as Dai ‘Sgaffadle’ (played by actor Emyr Wyn) began his tournament experience by not understanding the purpose of the games, but he soon changed his viewpoint once he learned of the life changing nature of the tournament. Da iawn Pobol y Cwm, a diolch. You may have also put two and two together that Working Word and the Homeless World Cup were behind Michael Sheen’s recent cameo appearance in the nightly soap, all in a day’s work for a major event PR campaign.

You can watch the episode with subtitles here:


5. Powerful player stories

© Paul John Roberts

© Paul John Roberts

Homeless World Cup players have been busy taking part in press and media interviews and with the tournament being held in Cardiff, the men and women from the host nation have been of particular interest to media. On Tuesday, BBC Cymru Fyw ran an article with Osian Lloyd, speaking to the Welsh player about how football has changed his life. Reuters came to the tournament to meet Mujahed, a refugee who fled the civil war in Yemen and now proudly wears the Welsh shirt. Bonny Jewell who plays for the Wales women’s team was a guest on the panel of the BBC 5live broadcast from the tournament, and opened up about her situation and what she thinks is the best solution to ending homelessness in Wales. Bonny said: “I’ve been in a shared accommodation and a hostel, it’s helped a lot and I want to help other people that have been in that situation.”