Warriors battle their way to cup glory
Positive support has been credited for helping the Welsh Warriors women’s football team achieve glory at the Homeless World Cup.
The Welsh Warriors women’s football team came home in glory, after beating England, Finland and Sweden to be crowned runners-up at the Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam last month.
The male and female players of Street Football Wales, all of whom have experienced homelessness and social exclusion, played in Amsterdam in the 13th annual Homeless World Cup, where more than 49 countries competed.
Project Leader for Street Football Wales Keri Harris said the women wore the shirts which were donated by the Football Association for Wales.
He said: “The Welsh women won matches in the first and second stages against Sweden, Belgium England and the USA to qualify for the Plate competition for teams finishing ninth to 16th in the 2nd stage.
“In the Plate quarter-finals Wales fought to beat Egypt 8-1, then pipped Finland to the post, winning 6-5 in the semis thanks to two goals in the last 10 seconds.
“The final saw the Welsh take on Sweden, who they had already been defeated 4-1 in the group stage. There was to be no revenge for the Swedes, with Wales winning 3-1, sparking scenes of utter jubilation at the final whistle.
“We wouldn’t have been able to attend the games had we not had received the support of Assembly Member Lesley Griffiths, who was able to source £10,000 for the team.”
Street Football Wales (SFW) is a social inclusion project run in partnership with Gwalia which launched in 2011 with funding from The Big Lottery.
Four years on and Street Football Wales has four leagues and is providing footballing opportunities for almost 1,000 individuals affected by homelessness, substance misuse and mental health issues.
The project helps people who struggle socially and are not accepted by their peers to play football and also gives people a chance to get out and about, become physically active, make new friends and learn new sports and life skills, such as teamwork and respect for one another.
Welsh Warrior Sophie Bancroft said words cannot describe how she and the other women are feeling since they came home.
She said: “It wasn’t just a football tournament, it was a sharing of experiences between people who have all faced problems but are looking positively towards the future. I pretty much collapsed at the final whistle. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
“We made friends for life out there, not just from Wales but the other countries too. Now it’s time to use what I’ve learnt in the Homeless World Cup and start a new chapter,” she said. “I have to say a special thank you to Keri Harris & Paul Scarfi. These men are just incredible and I thank them so much for giving me this life-changing opportunity.”
Team manager Paul Scarfi said: “The Warriors were incredible throughout the tournament and I had every faith in their ability to win the trophy they just needed to believe in themselves and put what they’d learnt in training in to practice. I am incredibly proud of them all and hope to have helped them take the next step in their journey to change their lives for the better.”
The Welsh Dragons male team also did well, facing off fierce competition from 48 countries to finish 37th overall in an extremely difficult competition.