The 13th Homeless World Cup kicked off in spectacular style in Amsterdam on Saturday, 12 September, 2015 after being opened by King Willlem-Alexander.
The tournament, which uses football to tackle homelessness, will feature over 500 players from 48 nations over the next seven days.
The event started with the players marching and dancing their way through an opening parade that wound through the square before Homeless World Cup co-founder Mel Young declared the tournament open.
Young, Salvation Army board member Henk Dykstra, Mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan, and King Willem-Alexander then tested the host nation goalkeeper’s reflexes in a penalty shoot-out, which the king won with a crowd-pleasing shot on his second attempt.
Also in the stands and by the pitch was actor and Homeless World Cup Ambassador Colin Farrell. Farrell spent the day on the Museumplein, chatting with and supporting the players, and in particular cheering for the team from his native Ireland.
After the game Farrell said: “This event brings a great sense of inclusion. It is an extraordinary thing to be around.”
Each team in the tournament played its first match and spent time in the stands watching their fellow teams. They will attend the Salvation Army’s gala celebration at the Heineken Music Hall this evening.
“This has been a special day,” said Mel Young during a break in the action. “Seeing the teams arriving is a magical moment… I know how difficult it’s been for them. It’s a culmination of a huge amount of work.”
The Homeless World Cup will run at the Museumplein until Saturday, 19 September, 2015.