The Homeless World Cup through storytelling: the narratives of Street Soccer players from Scotland and the USA

Jordan A. Donnelly*, Meredith A. Whitley, Daryl T. Cowan, Sara McLaughlin, Rosie Arthur

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The purpose of this paper was to explore: (a) What stories do the Street Soccer players draw upon to construct meaning around their experiences of trauma, social exclusion, and homelessness? and (b) What stories are linked to the subjective sport programming experience and resulting future orientations?

A longitudinal narrative approach was adopted with semi-structured interviews conducted with players from Scotland and the United States (n = 16, 7 female, 9 male, M age = 27.5) across three time points. Interviews were also conducted with significant others (n = 13) at time point three. All data were analyzed using thematic narrative analysis and represented in creative non-fiction approaches through three composite narratives.

These narratives depicted visceral accounts of complex and developmental trauma, along with consequential experiences that unfolded before, during, and after the Homeless World Cup. While both preparing for and attending the event, players recalled concurrent feelings of anxiety and pride which manifested in various resilient and maladaptive coping behaviors. As the stories progressed, players battled a post event crash by engaging in support seeking and/or self-destructive behaviors before positive implications of the Homeless World Cup materialized.

Through creative narrative approaches, this study presents novel and engaging accounts of players’ experiences before, during, and after the event. We also identify potential safeguarding concerns that can be addressed through trauma-informed practices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102549
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Early online date10 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2024


  • destitute
  • social exclusion
  • trauma
  • sport-for-development
  • sport programming
  • creative nonfiction


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