Al Jazeera Close Up

The Women of Football: Qatar’s Other World Cup | Close Up

These street girls from Bangladesh are striking on the pitch at Qatar’s other World Cup: The Street Child World Cup.

Eti left her home when she was eight years old. “Nobody loved me in my family. I survived by begging. I used to beg all day on the train and I’d often get beaten because of begging,” says the 13-year-old girl, as she recounts what life on the streets of Dhaka was like for her.

Until recently, Eti was one of nearly 1.5 million children living on the streets of Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world. But today, Eti and 11 of her friends are on a very different journey: they are representing Bangladesh at a World Cup with a twist – the Street Child World Cup in Qatar.

This event, which happens every four years and takes place before the FIFA World Cup, brings together 28 football teams of street girls and boys from around the world. The Street Child World Cup is more than football. It is an opportunity to shine a light on what it is like to be homeless and the triumphs the children experience while in Qatar. In Eti’s own words: “I was a drug addict and there was no hope in my life. Now I’ve come to Qatar to represent my country in this World Cup. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter. I’m happy about the journey.”


A film by Gautam Singh

Additional cinematography: Rawyan Shayema & Robin Paul

Sound on location: Sazzad Ahmed & Nikki Singh

Sound: Linus Bergman

Editor: Jameel Hodzic

EP: Tierney Bonini