23 Feb 2005

Soccer hopefuls from across South Wales lined up in Swansea today for the launch of Wales’ first Street Soccer League. Football01a

Players have been gearing up for the unique competition which sees eight teams pit themselves against their match rivals over an eight month season. The first match today kicked off at the Phoenix Centre in Townhill, with more than 60 men and women – who have been excluded from society through homelessness and poverty – showcasing their soccer skills.

The League is a one-year pilot project developed by homeless charity Cyrenians Cymru and funded by a National Lottery Grant from the Sports Council for Wales. It aims to use the passion of football to help remove social barriers and create new chances for people in crisis situations.

The Sports Council for Wales Chief Executive Dr Huw Jones said:

"Most people are aware of the benefits of sport and physical activity in terms of health and fitness, but participation can also promote social inclusion, raise individual self esteem and confidence, and widen horizons."

A successful first season means the organisers can expand the project and double the number of teams taking part next year. The eventual aim is to roll it out Wales-wide, helping disadvantaged individuals across Wales reach their potential and kick deprivation and homelessness out of touch.