Prolific Scots conquer the world
© AFP

The 2007 Homeless World Cup in Copenhagen, Denmark came to a thrilling end on Sunday when Scotland beat Poland 9-3 in the final. With the no-nonsense Kim Milton Nielsen, famously remembered for dismissing David Beckham from England's 1998 FIFA World Cup™ match against Argentina, officiating, both teams put on a spectacle but the Scots' clinical touch in front of goal swung the result in their favour.

In the presence of the Danish Crown Prince, the Tartan Army led 4-2 at half-time and this two-cushion was doubled within minutes of the restart. Poland did pull one back, but Scotland rippled their opponents' net another three times - the last one in the final moments of the contest - to seal an impressive victory.

Their triumph was a great improvement on the 33rd place finish they managed at last year's event, and was certainly indebted to their captain Paul Smith. His handsome performances were rewarded with the 'best player of the tournament' award.

The path for both teams was not an easy one. The tournament has five stages, with each round of games separating the nations into seeded streams. Each seeded stream eventually has an opportunity to play for one of six trophy competitions. To advance to the top-seed finals and compete for the Homeless World Cup Trophy, both teams must win all their games after the preliminary group stages.

The other highlight of the trophy stages was the Hus Forbi Trophy Final for the fourth-tier seeded teams. At the end of the second half, Netherlands and Mexico were tied at 4-4 and the match was ultimately decided on penalties, with the Dutch winning 3-2.

Mel Young, the President of the Homeless World Cup, was ecstatic about the event, telling the teams "you have been great ambassadors for your countries and homeless around the world".

Each tournament produces significant changes in the participants' lives. While it is too early to gauge the impact of the 2007 edition, last year's Cape Town event certainly exceeded expectations. According to a survey by the Homeless World Cup Organisation after the 2006 Homeless World Cup, 92 percent of players had a new motivation for life, 93 players successfully addressed a drug or alcohol dependency, 44 percent improved their housing situation and 72 percent continue to play football.

The next Homeless World Cup will take place in Melbourne, Australia in 2008.