Street Football teams get boost in bid for Homeless World Cup
Community Housing Cymru (CHC) are kicking-off a fundraising drive to help send two Street Football Wales teams to the Homeless World Cup.
Street Football Wales have been chosen as charity of the year by CHC who are encouraging other Welsh housing associations to team-up and support SFW's fundraising campaign.
Street Football Wales (SFW) is a Gwalia supported social inclusion project which engages and supports individuals affected by homelessness, substance misuse and ill-mental health through street football leagues organised throughout Wales.
In October, 24 male and female players of SFW all of whom have experienced homelessness and social exclusion will be flying to Chile, Santiago to take part in the 12th annual Homeless World Cup, where over 64 countries are competing.
A total of £30,000 is needed to send the SFW players to the Homelessness World Cup and CHC hope the sector which is made up of more than 70 members can raise £15,000 as a collaborative fundraising drive. SFW are also running a series of fundraising activities to reach their fundraising target.
Keri Harris, Project Leader for SFW said: "The players who will be selected for the Homelessness World Cup are those who have trained hard over the year and all have shown great progress. Taking part in the annual tournament will give people a sense of self-worth, pride, respect from others, a sense of achievement and a desire to reach their life goals.
"A number of SFW players have gone from living on the streets to turning their lives around, getting a home, a job with SFW and then helping others who are now in similar situations to what they were. SFW helps to transform people’s lives through the power of football."
Chief Executive of CHC Nick Bennett said: "SFW is a social inclusion charity which has struggled for many years to gain financial support, this was mainly due to it being one of the first organisations in the UK to use football as a tool to engage with some of the most disadvantaged people in society in a bid to end homelessness and poverty.
"As a sector SFW’s aims and the issues they work to tackle to help those in need mirror so many of our own.
"SFW are helping to change and improve lives, reducing social exclusion and, increasing empowerment and progression opportunities for so many people and so we are pleased as a sector to be able to help this great cause. I urge the sector to back the campaign like Gwalia has to help SFW’s bid for World Cup glory for Wales."
Other former homeless players whose lives have been transformed through the work of SFW are now giving back. Among those presently fundraising for SFW’s Chile bid is David John aged 25, from Swansea. Along with SFW colleague Geraint Edwards, the friends have secured places in Swansea Half-marathon.
David said: "We were really lucky to get a place in the Swansea half marathon. It will be a challenge for me running 13 miles. Geraint and I will be training together but I will be passing the finishing line before him! I am very passionate about my team mates and the SFW initiative of tackling homelessness. We hope we can raise as much as possible to get to Chile."
Another fundraiser is formerly homeless SFW project worker Claire Rogers, aged 25 from Newport who will be challenging herself physically and mentally by skydiving In order to raise funds for their team members to get to Chile in October.
Claire, who now lives in Skewen said: "I am terrified of heights but I will do anything for a good cause. I have experienced homelessness and I know how my team feel, going to Chile will be an amazing experience for all of us and hopefully we will bring back a cup!"
The 12th annual Homeless World Cup tournament will be held in Santiago, Chile from 19th-26th October 2014. The eight day tournament will see 64 nations and more than 500 players competing for the World Cup title. The Welsh Warriors and Welsh Dragons will be leaving on 17 October.
Last year, the SFW female 'Welsh Warriors' made it to the finals missing out on the cup against England scoring 4-5 in penalty shootout, with the male team 'The Welsh Dragons', placing fourth after defeating Switzerland in the quarter finals. Now the teams have their sights set on achieving further success in Chile.
The SFW World Cup team will be announced in July.
If you would like to help SFW in their fundraising efforts visit http://localgiving.com/charity/sfw
Follow @sfootballwales and join the conversation on twitter #sfw4worldcup.