Homeless World Cup squad 2015
Published: Thur, 16 Apr 2015
The line-up has been revealed.
A group of young men are set to represent Northern Ireland at the 2015 Homeless World Cup. The squad’s line-up for the ten day tournament in Amsterdam was announced at an event at the Skainos Centre in East Belfast this afternoon (Wednesday).
The team training kit, sponsored by the Housing Executive, was also unveiled at the event.
The eight young men, who will represent Northern Ireland, have all experienced homelessness and were selected from 5-a-side leagues, run weekly by the charity, Street Soccer NI, across Northern Ireland.
Street Soccer NI works with homeless people and other marginalised groups through the medium of football. Its principal partners are East Belfast Mission and the IFA. The project is also supported by the Housing Executive, Sported and Lloyds.
Street Soccer NI plans to develop project right across Northern Ireland which will also include young homeless women.
After two days of recent trials the line-up selected are Ciaran Bradley and Brendan Beattie from Derry-Londonderry; Gerard Turner, Ryan O'Neil, Gift Dube, Darren Spiers, Hasson Benaddi and Tomasz Jarzynski, hailing from Belfast.
They were announced by one of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, President and co-founder of the Homeless World Cup, Mel Young.
The team will be accompanied by a dedicated support staff including coach Steven Weldon and last year’s captain, Brendan Kingsmore, who describes his participation in the 2014 World Cup as ‘life changing’.
Last year’s team won a Best Housing Story award for their journey.
This year, the team will join 55 countries to compete in the international football event, which has been running for the last 11 years. The organisers expect over 200,000 spectators at the event.
Squad member, Gerard Turner from Belfast, said:
''I am buzzing. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and it’s going to change my life. I have never been on plane before and I'm looking forward going to Amsterdam to play the game that I love. If it wasn’t for football I wouldn't be here.''
Anne Sweeney, Assistant Director of the Housing Executive’s Supporting People programme, said:
“Initiatives such as the Street Soccer NI provide a productive channel for those in need of help and encouragement.
“The Housing Executive’s work is about much more than bricks and mortar and so we are delighted to support the 2015 team on its journey to the Homeless World Cup. We look forward to seeing their progress to Amsterdam this September.
And, Aidan Byrne, Manager of the Hosford Homelessness service at East Belfast Mission, added:
“It’s a real pleasure to be involved with this project. The outcomes we have seen have been fantastic. I’m very excited about our plans for the next few years and I want to say a big thank you to our players and supporters.”
Justin McMinn, Street Soccer NI manager, concluded:
''This is a once in a life time experience for the players, a dream come true. Some of the team have never been on a plane before. Now, they are representing their country at an international tournament in Amsterdam. This trip will not only be their best experience but it will also bring positive changes to their lives''