May Edinburgh Networking Breakfast – Mel Young MBE – President & Co-Founder of the Homeless World Cup

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  • Networking Breakfast
     23 May 2024
     8:30 am - 10:00 am


Our Networking Breakfasts are popular events which give attendees the opportunity for high quality networking for a full hour, as well as hear an inspiring entrepreneurial journey or from a relevant topic expert.  Welcoming, beneficial, fun and outstanding networking opportunities is how guests describe our Breakfasts which take place monthly in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

We’re delighted to be welcoming Mel Young MBE, a globally recognised, multi-award winning social entrepreneur to this month’s breakfast.  A serial entrepreneur, Mel co-founded, and is the President of, the Homeless World Cup, as well as co-founder of The Big Issue in Scotland, the International Network of Street Papers, Social Entrepreneurs Network Scotland (Senscot) and the Elders Council for Social Entrepreneurs. He is a change-maker and believes passionately that homelessness around the world can be ended and the important role that sport plays in changing the world for the better.

Mel’s work has had an impact around the world and his ability to combine sport and an entrepreneurial spirit has had a magnetic effect.

An avid lover of sport, he firmly believes in the power of sport to create positive change.  This has been brought even more to the fore most recently with the film, The Beautiful Game starring Bill Nighy which was released on Netflix a few weeks ago.  It was inspired by the Homeless World Cup and has received outstandingly excellent reviews.

An in-demand international speaker, Mel takes inspiration to whole new levels, this is a breakfast you definitely won’t want to miss!


Having initially worked as a journalist, including on a community newspaper in Wester Hailes in Edinburgh, Mel co-founded The Big Issue in Scotland in 1993. He also co-founded Senscot (Social Entrepreneurs Network Scotland), the City Lynx magazine and the New Consumer magazine.

In 2003, Mel co-founded the Homeless World Cup.

“I was having a beer with my great friend Harald Schmied who ran a street paper for homeless people in Graz, Austria.  We’d been taking part in the annual conference of the International Network of Street Papers.  We sat up lat into the night talking about how we could change the world.

Mel and Harald agreed that the conference had been great, but they were concerned that it was a gathering of editors, founders, and directors. No people experiencing homelessness had attended.  They posed the question: How could they involve homeless people in the same international inspiration they were experiencing?

After lengthy discussions, they came upon the idea of football, the universal language.  The first Homeless World Cup took place 18 months later in Graz, Austria, in July 2003.

“By the end of the night we had invented the Homeless World Cup, where teams from all over the world could represent their country in a week-long street soccer tournament. It was a lively and animated conversation and we both imagined a colourful football competition which would change people’s lives.”

Since inception, there have been 18 tournaments, with Covid enforcing a four-year break between 2019 and 2023. Teams have taken to the pitch in Edinburgh and Cardiff as well as a host of big cities around the world including Cape Town in South Africa, on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and under the Eiffel Tower in Paris in France.

The 2024 tournament will take place in South Korea capital Seoul on 21-28 September this year. It’s the first time the Homeless World Cup will be played in Asia.

In 2016, he was awarded an MBE his significant contribution to sport and social entrepreneurship.

The same year, he was recognised for his work by the prestigious United States Sports Academy who presented him with the Jackie Robinson Humanitarian Award, an honour he shares with Cristiano Ronaldo, Tiger Woods, Andre Agassi and Michael Jordan. This international award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated a concern for mankind and exhibits the qualities of dedication, grace under pressure, personal sacrifice, compassion, hope and dignity that characterise the promotion of human welfare and social reform.

He has been awarded five honorary degrees from Scottish universities. He is the author of ‘GOAL! The story of the Homeless World Cup’ and teamed up with Peter Barr to write ‘Home Game – the Official Story of the Homeless World Cup’.  The book provides an insight into the birth of the Homeless World Cup and how it has become a global phenomenon, helping to transform the lives of over one million people in 70 countries – using the power of football.  He also co-wrote ‘Social Entrepreneurship: A Better Way of Thinking About a Sustainable Future‘ with Alexandra Matthews.

He is a Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum and a Senior Ashoka Fellow – both international organisations that bring together leading social entrepreneurs.

He is an active member of the Catalyst 2030 network and Chair of sportscotland, the national agency for sport in Scotland.  Additionally, he is the former President and Honorary President of INSP (International Network for Street Papers).


The Beautiful Game, a film inspired by the Homeless World Cup, began filming in 2021 and has been produced by Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and Ben Knight.

Mal (Bill Nighy, Living, About Time) is the manager of England’s homeless football team, taking his players to Rome with the hope of being crowned champions of the Homeless World Cup, a global street soccer tournament.

At the last minute he decides to bring with them a talented striker Vinny (Micheal Ward, Empire of Light, The Book of Clarence), who could give them a real chance at winning, but only if he’s ready to let go of his past and become part of the team.

Made with the support of the Homeless World Cup, The Beautiful Game is a film of second chances – where homeless teams from around the world find that all roads lead to Rome, and everything’s to play for.


Anyone with an interest in business who is looking for an enjoyable networking event!  Unlike many networking events, there is a full hour allocated to networking.


The ticket price of £23 + VAT for members and £28 + VAT for non-members.  The ticket price includes tea/coffee and a bacon roll or pastries. Please select your choice when booking your ticket.

A VAT invoice will be issued once you have booked your ticket. Please note that ticket sales end at 5pm on Tuesday 21st of May.


Tickets can be cancelled and refunded by [email protected]. We regret that any tickets cancelled after 2pm on Thursday 16th May will not be applicable for refunds for any reason.  Tickets can be transferred to a different name until Wednesday 22nd May 2pm by [email protected]


Anyone with an interest in business who is looking for an enjoyable networking event!  Unlike many networking events, there is a full hour allocated to networking.

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Venue Phone: 0131 376 9494

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145 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4BL, United Kingdom