Self-admittedly, I am a soccer fanatic. I have watched my children play at Select/Metro levels for over 15 years. I subscribe to cable television only once every four years in order to watch the World Cup. I have risen at unbelievable hours in order to watch games on the other side of the world, then go off to work. Yet I have never heard of the Homeless World Cup until I read this novel.
Now is the Time for Running (2009) is the harrowing tale of a young boy forced to run from his native Zimbabwe after his village was attacked by government soldiers for not having voted the right way in the last presidential election, only to face worse discrimination over the border in South Africa. South African author Michael Williams, horrified by the xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2008 and inspired by the stories of refugees he worked with in a soup kitchen in Cape Town, set his novel against the backdrop of the life-saving game of soccer and the Homeless World Cup, https://www.homelessworldcup.org, an event that has been going on since 2003. While the story of Deo, the young Zimbabwean whose story is featured, is deeply engaging, so is the author’s biography. A very special YA novel written by a very special person.