THE BEAUTIFUL GAME TACKLES HOMELESSNESS
23 Feb 2005
The league proudly boasts some striking soccer talents from the Welsh Dragons national team, who competed in the Homeless World Cup in Austria in 2003 and Sweden in 2004. Last year saw the Dragons return from Sweden in 11th place, after seeing off competition from the likes of Germany, Brazil and Holland. The team are also still basking in the glory of lifting the Home Nations Homeless Cup in November 2004, following a momentous win over England in the Championship final.
Lee Jones was just one of the players who took the Dragons to victory last year, and has been looking forward donning his boots once more and stepping out on home ground for the league launch:
"Getting involved in football was about much more than kicking a ball; it made a massive difference to my life. It gave me back my confidence and helped me to believe in myself again. I made some great mates and realised I wasn’t the only one who had problems to deal with in my life."
Keri Harris is the Street Soccer Development Officer, and after seeing first hand the impact of the World Cup on the players, he is positive about the project in Wales:
"We have been working with rough sleepers, long term unemployed, ex-offenders, people with learning difficulties and mental health problems, to help them rebuild their lives, and football is just one of the ways of tackling the issues affecting them.
"The training sessions have proven to be a really innovative way of engaging the players, and the matches will provide them with an amazing opportunity to work as part of a team, share experiences and maybe learn how others are moving on from the streets.
"Already I have seen the impact of the scheme through the training sessions – getting them off the sidelines and into a team has brought more structure to their lives and they have become much more positive about dealing with their issues and changing their lives for the better – all evidence of the positive impact sport can have."