Homeless World Cup organisers are inviting fans into the ‘virtual stadium’ this weekend for an online version of the cancelled event – and they will be welcoming fundraising fans who share a love of Michael Sheen.
The actor and activist went above and beyond last year to bring the Homeless World Cup to Cardiff, putting his hand in his pocket to cover funding shortages so the event would go ahead. Sheen had been integral in the bid to bring the tournament to Wales and even vowed to postpone his plans to step back from acting to cover the costs.
His remarkable efforts have rubbed off on his fans.
During lockdown in April, the first-ever SheenCon took place, led by Brittanee Gorman from Pennsylvania in the United States.
Quickly organised after Sheen’s appearance at Wales Comic Con was cancelled due to Covid-19, as many as 200 Sheen fanatics connected on Zoom to cosplay as their favourite Good Omens characters, sing karaoke, complete Sheen quizzes and watch his films.
In true Sheen style, he also took part, joining fans for a 45-minute Q&A session over Zoom, a surprise that Brittanee stressed had been “a highlight of quarantine for many”.
That close connection that Sheen formed with his fans has seen them take on his fundraising efforts. Brittanee has been leading the charge with an online RedBubble store selling SheenCon merchandise to raise money for NHS Wales over the last three months.
But she has turned her attention to the Homeless World Cup after being struck by Sheen’s long-lasting support for the tournament, which brings together 500 players from countries all over the world in an annual street football extravaganza.
“I think Michael saw how important the Homeless World Cup is to so many people, so when the funding fell through, he was in a position to be able to help and so he did on a very large scale,” Brittanee told The Big Issue. “I can only imagine how many people’s lives changed through that selfless act.
“I found out about the Homeless World Cup last year through Michael’s Twitter account. He was obviously posting about it and he started doing videos each day from there, encouraging people who could come, to come, which were a lot of fun. I did end up watching a lot of the games that were being live streamed through Twitter at the time.
“I knew that they were having a virtual event in July and I was looking more into it, seeing that they were taking donations. I knew that since they could not have a physical event this year that they were very likely missing out on a lot of fundraising and I wanted to help contribute.”
Brittanee became a big Sheen fan after watching Amazon’s Good Omens adaption last year and connecting with his angelic character Aziraphale.
She has also joined his legions of fans in being inspired by his good deeds off-screen. As well as supporting NHS Wales and the Homeless World Cup, Sheen has inspired fans to get involved with efforts to raise money for Christmas lights in Port Talbot and donate cash to Unicef UK for his birthday.
Brittanee said: “I had become a fan through watching his work and then realising that he had such a kind heart and that really drew me in. I wanted to be supportive of someone who used their influence to do good and put good into the world so I have.
“His interactions with his fans may take, you know, a minute or two for him and he can think nothing of it but for us, they really do mean the world and bring so much joy. So much of what he does brings joy and I admire that so much. I try to put my own joy out into the world as well.”
Hello! Welcome to The White Curl (TWC). We're a fan-driven initiative using the power of art and community to make the world a better place. This thread has more info about the project, including past campaigns. pic.twitter.com/Aki7QS3D9R
— The White Curl Project (@thewhitecurl) March 4, 2020
Alongside the SheenCon 2020 efforts, The White Curl Project was setup in November last year to keep the selfless support rolling and the focus will be on the Homeless World Cup this weekend to help the foundation behind the tournament further their work even though this year’s Tampere event was postponed.
The project asks fans to donate to charities in exchange for gifts of exclusive Michael Sheen on buttons, magnets, prints and more, and has raised more than £1,200 in the last nine days for the HWC and The Huggard Centre in Cardiff. The White Curl Project has raised more than £6,000 for those causes and as well as homelessness charities in Wales including Shelter Cymru, The Wallich, Llamau and Thrive Women’s Aid.
Join us in raising funds for two amazing orgs this month, check them out in the thread below. Donate £5 for 1, £10 for 3. Ask us about a deal for the whole lot! Just donate directly to one of the links in this thread and send us a DM. More here: https://t.co/fquUBN6IHW pic.twitter.com/ZkVGV6M1Sn
— The White Curl Project (@thewhitecurl) June 22, 2020
Sheen fan Lynn, who splits her time between North Carolina and London, launched the project after being “inspired” by Sheen’s work at the Homeless World Cup and she travelled to Cardiff to attend the event off the back of his work.
She then spent three months developing the project before launching in November last year, bringing on board Orange County-based pal Annie to help with logistics and finance and working with 35 artists from the Sheen fan community to create custom designs.
To boost their fundraising efforts, project lead Lynn will be revealing new designs this weekend in the hope that fans will support a cause that she admits she would not have been aware of if not for Michael Sheen’s efforts to boost its profile.
“I loved him as an actor,” Lynn told The Big Issue. “And when I realised that he wasn’t just an actor but he was also someone who used his platform and his privilege for something more, I was really inspired by that. That’s how I want to be.
“I went to the Homeless World Cup because I wanted to see what it was like and I was blown away by it by this event where people’s lives are being changed.”
The event also changed Lynn’s life as she used the project to raise vital cash for homeless charities as well as contributing £1,000 to Sheen’s fundraiser to help people react to the devastating floods that hit Wales earlier this year.
— The White Curl Project (@thewhitecurl) July 1, 2020
And The White Curl Project continues to support the causes that Sheen highlights, including the Homeless World Cup this weekend.
Lynn said: “He’s one of the few actors who feels like he really cares, he would probably give a way all his money for these causes. He’s not just about writing the cheque.”