The third Street Child World Cup: The Future Depends On You will kick off in Moscow on Thursday.
Over 200 street-connected children representing their nations will play in the competition, which is designed to draw attention to the rights of millions of children surviving on the streets worldwide and to change negative perceptions about them.
The tournament, which showcases 12 male and 12 female teams, has been organised in conjunction with Save the Children and Russian telecommunications company Megafon and will have a festival of arts and a Congress for their rights run in parallel with it.
“When people see us by the streets, they say that we are the street boys. But when they see us playing soccer, they say that we are not the street boys - they say that we are people like them,” Andile, who was part of Team South Africa at the 2010 Street Child World Cup, explained.
Goal will stream the competition via its Facebook page, beginning with the opening ceremony and a friendly encounter between the girls' teams from Russia and Brazil. Tournament highlights will be available throughout the event, with all matches being played at Russian champions, Lokomotiv Moscow's, Sapsan Arena.
Many high-profile names have given their backing to the competition, including England manager Gareth Southgate.
"The Street Child World Cup: The Future Depends On You is a fantastic event,” he said.
“It's about using football to make a positive impact and not speaking for vulnerable young people but giving them a platform to speak for themselves. I wish Team England, and all the young people taking part, the best of luck in the football but more importantly in changing the world.”
Former Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva works in conjunction with Street Child United, the charity that has organised the competition, and feels blessed to have been given the opportunity to work with such driven individuals.
“I’m honoured to be an ambassador for Street Child United,” the Premier League champion explained.
“It has been a privilege for me to meet the inspirational former street children involved. They are incredible leaders and I’m delighted to support them on their journey to the Street Child World Cup: The Future Depends On You.”
Each team is represented by an organisation working with street-connected young people in that country, with Centrepoint organising the England side. To be eligible for selection, the children must have been under the care of the participating organisation for a year and be part of an on-going development programme.
The competition will be a curtain raiser to World Cup 2018 in the summer, and has previously been hosted by Durban, South Africa in 2010, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2014.