The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park was a fitting setting today to help send off a squad of 16 players who, this week, will represent Northern Ireland at the Homeless World Cup in Cardiff City, Wales. The tournament will run from 27th July – 3rd August.
Every year, the Homeless World Cup Foundation delivers an inspirational week-long street football tournament that brings together more than 500 players representing 50+ countries around the world, all of whom have faced homelessness and social marginalisation.
Team Northern Ireland are being funded by the Department for Communities (DfC) as part of the Northern Ireland Executive’s Together: Building a United Community(T:BUC) Strategy. This Street Soccer NI project also crucially provides a wide range of support services to ensure that the players have the best opportunities to transform their lives upon return.
Speaking at the reception, Kathryn Hill, Director of Active Communities at DfC said: “The Department is delighted to support Street Soccer NI and the teams travelling to compete and represent Northern Ireland at the Homeless World Cup in Cardiff City. This experience, together with an intensive wraparound support service, represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for these players to transform their lives. This project started with 16 individuals and now they are one team. I congratulate everyone on being selected and I wish them every success in Cardiff and for their futures.”
Northern Ireland will be represented by both a male and female team who will compete in a purpose-built stadium in the heart of the host city. It is expected that the tournament will attract crowds of more than 80,000 with millions more watching online around the world.
Justin McMinn, Manager and co-founder of Street Soccer Northern Ireland said: “This is a dream come true for all the players, a chance to represent your country in a sport that you love. Over the last six years we have witnessed the impact this event has on the players with many of them breaking out of homelessness and unemployment on their return. They will come back full of confidence and motivation to make positive changes in their lives‘‘.
Representing the male squad, player Glen Simpson said: “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and will be some buzz. It’s helped me mentally and helped keep me away from the drink. I was drinking heavy before I was selected for the trials and now Street Soccer has helped me overcome it and focus on other stuff. I hope to get employment and a place to live when I get back.’’
Janette Kelly, representing the female squad added: ‘‘I feel excited to represent my country at the Homeless World Cup. Since I have been involved with Street Soccer, it has helped me with my anxiety and depression. It has given me motivation and something to look forward to every week. I love the social aspect and being involved in a team and meeting people from other countries.’’
Notes to editors:
- The 17th edition of the Homeless World Cup will take place in Cardiff’s iconic Bute Park, right at the heart of the Welsh capital, from July 27 – August 3. More than 500 players representing over 50 countries will travel to Cardiff to attend the week-long festival of football, in what is to become one of the most inspiring Homeless World Cup tournaments yet.
- More information on the Homeless World Cup is available
- Media enquiries to DfC Press Office on 028 9082 3532 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.
- Follow the Department on Twitter @CommunitiesNI