x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Everyone a winner

Like most of the players at this week's Homeless World Cup, Scotland captain Stephen Docherty's life bares no resemblance to that of a conventional international footballer.

The team from Afghanistan celebrate their win over Russia during the final of the 2008 Homeless World Cup in Federation Square, Melbourne.
The team from Afghanistan celebrate their win over Russia during the final of the 2008 Homeless World Cup in Federation Square, Melbourne.

MELBOURNE // Like most of the players at this week's Homeless World Cup, Scotland captain Stephen Docherty's life bares no resemblance to that of a conventional international footballer. Docherty does not have a lucrative contract or expensive car. The sixth annual Homeless World Cup was held in Australia with 500 players representing 56 nations in their own version of "street football", played in two seven-minute halves with teams of four - including a goalkeeper.

More than 5,000 crammed into Federation Square yesterday to watch Afghanistan beat Russia 5-4 in the men's final. Docherty had to watch from the sidelines after his squad went down to Russia in the semis. Still, he said it was a victory for him just being at the tournament. In his younger days Docherty, 37, represented Glasgow's Shamrock Boys Club in the Scottish Amateur Football League, but his promising sporting career was derailed by a drug addiction.

"As I grew up and got involved with drugs, I lost all contact with sport," said Docherty. "Drugs took over my life." After spending 10 years in prison for various convictions and battling drug addiction, Docherty says taking part in the Homeless World Cup was a chance to turn his life around. "People start treating you differently and let you see that you're worth something and you're not hopeless," he said. "You can actually do something with your life. I look at where I was, and now I've been asked to captain my country and come over here."

The Melbourne edition of the cup included a women's tournament for the first time in which Zambia beat Liberia 7-1 in the final. * AP