Sixteen young people from NI will be travelling to Cardiff next month to take part in a once in a lifetime opportunity as they represent Northern Ireland in the 2019 Homeless World Cup. The weeklong tournament, which brings together 500 players from over 50 countries, has transformed the lives of many who have participated.
As part of their preparations, the two teams (one male and one female) were presented with their new kits, sponsored by Choice Housing. Ahead of the tournament, which takes place from 27th July to 3rd August, the players will avail of training and support to help improve their fitness and benefit their mental wellbeing, building their confidence and self-esteem. Education is provided with the hope that they will take advantage of new skills, find employment and break out of homelessness.
Lawrence Jackson, Group Director of Corporate Services for Choice Housing said:
“At Choice, we want to support the most vulnerable in our communities. Initiatives like Street Soccer NI are doing amazing work in giving those affected by homelessness a real opportunity to improve their lives while developing new skills and friendships. It is also about having fun, enjoying a once in a lifetime experience – one they will hopefully remember for a long time.
“We have supported Street Soccer NI and their participation in the Homeless World Cup for a number of years but having witnessed the positive impact it has had on participants we wanted to do more. This investment is not just for football kits, but an investment in the future of our young people”.
During last year’s tournament, held in Mexico, a number of local players excelled both during the tournament and on their return. Keira Moss won Female Player of the Tournament and Clare Carson picked up Best Female Coach. On returning from last year’s event, player Brian Lyndsay became an ambassador for the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and gained full time employment. A number of participants have continued to volunteer with Soccer NI, while many have found themselves homes, become IFA certified coaches and gained employment.
Justin McMinn, Manager and Co-Founder of Street Soccer Northern Ireland said:
“I’d like to thank Choice for sponsoring the kits for this year’s tournament. We could not send our participants to tournaments like these without the support from our funders, who recognise the long term benefits these programmes can have on individual’s lives”.
Street Soccer NI is a Belfast based football project established in 2010 and aims to promote a positive change to disadvantaged and marginalised groups in society. Participants in the project have faced homelessness, addiction, mental health issues and unemployment. Through Street Soccer NI they are given the opportunity to make a real change to people’s lives through football.