Behind the scenes

Inside the Big Issue: The glorious, chaotic, triumphant story of the Homeless World Cup

In this week's Big Issue, we look at the Homeless World Cup, which provides life-changing inspiration to people from 70 countries

Inside the Big Issue

In early October 2021, The Big Issue went to Haggerston, East London, where the final scene of The Beautiful Game is being filmed.

The new Netflix film finally being released this week follows the England team, featuring rising acting stars Micheal Ward (Small Axe: Lovers Rock) and It’s a Sin’s Callum Scott Howells and their manager, Mal, played by Bill Nighy, to the Homeless World Cup in Italy.

The Homeless World Cup is a real event, that regular readers will be more than familiar with. It was originally dreamt up during a conversation between the Big Issue in Scotland co-founder Mel Young and Harald Schmid, who ran a street paper in Graz, Austria.

Since the inaugural tournament in July 2003, it has offered life-changing inspiration and opportunity to people from 70 countries.

“It’s about something really fabulous and important,” said Nighy, when we spoke to him about the film. “The Homeless World Cup is such a smart mechanism. An incredible enterprise that works on so many levels, in so many ways. It gives people a sense of community. They get to travel, possibly for the first time.”

Many of the supporting artists Nighy was hanging out with had real life experience of homelessness and playing at the Homeless World Cup, and we profile them in this week’s magazine too.

The Beautiful Game shows the potential in each and every person. And it shows how the Homeless World Cup can help people on a new path to realise that potential. 

“When they get the opportunity to be part of something, to identify with something, to be proud of something, they are just like anyone else,” said Nighy. “The Beautiful Game shows that people’s circumstances don’t define them as human beings.”

What else is in this week’s issue?

Mary & George‘s Tony Curran on playing ‘horny goatf**ker’ King James

For his role in new Sky drama Mary & George, Tony Curran plays the king with real verve. It’s a racy, rollicking ride through history, focusing on the power struggles behind the throne as Mary Villiers (played with relish by Julianne Moore) engineers her son George’s elevation to the supremely powerful position as the king’s most favoured lover.

“Julianne Moore… has Celtic roots like King James, she’s a fellow redhead, a fellow Sagittarian – so we had a lot of fun and a lot of fire on that set,” Curran says.

Family court sees trauma every day. Here’s how we can help struggling parents break the cycle

Poor people don’t have access to things like psychotherapy. But a mental health fund for disadvantaged parents might put an end to trauma being passed down the generations. A child protection lawyer tells us how it could help.

Some people might find my middle-aged life boring – but it’s real. There’s beauty in the humdrum

“I used to think life could be so boring. Now I realise that I was just being unimaginative.”

Revelling in domestic routine might once have looked like surrender, now it’s a source of profound joy, writes Sam Delaney. Your middle-aged life doesn’t have to be dull.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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