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Street Soccer NI takes on Scotland and wins

Published: Thur, 5 Nov 2015
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NI captain Steven Weldon whose side won the inaugural Celtic Challenge Cup, which was handed over by our Head of Communications Jonny Blease. Also pictured is Scottish captain John Hall (right)
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A group of young men, who have experienced homelessness, represented Northern Ireland in the Celtic Challenge Cup yesterday at the Seaview grounds in Belfast.
In a fantastic billing, the Northern Ireland squad won the game with a final scoreline of 5-4. Scotland, who were 5-2 down at one point, fought hard to find another two goals, making it a very tight game.
In the end Northern Ireland kept their composure and deservedly won the inaugural Celtic Challenge Cup.
They were presented with the Cup by Jonny Blease, our Head of Communications. We sponsor the team kit.
The Street Soccer NI project uses the power of football to inspire homeless people to make changes in their lives. Alongside the football they offer support around housing, employability, addictions and more.
Squad member, Gerard Toner from Belfast, said:
''Early this year something terrible happened in my life and I had lost hope and my ambition. I had plans to take my own life and had even tried to do so.
“Street Soccer has given me a new perspective on life and the hope to get ahead in life. I’ve now got my own house and I am linked in with Gems employability service and I hope to get full time employment.”
His team-mate, Darren Spiers, said:
“Being involved has given me the motivation to get a house and a job. Last month I applied for jobs and got three interviews. I was successful and now have a job which I love. I’m now planning on getting my own home and getting ahead in in my job.”
Justin McMinn, Team Manager, said:
“I am so excited to start the new Street Soccer Academy. We provide weekly football training and matches but it’s also about changing lives.
Aidan Byrne, Manager of Hosford Homelessness service said:
“Homelessness is a serious problem. That’s why it’s great to see the great work being done by Street Soccer NI and the impact it is having on lives. I’ve been working in the homelessness sector for ten years and this is certainly one of the most exciting projects I’ve seen.”  
Jonny Blease, added:
“We are very proud of the team and their achievements and the impact this project has in transforming the lives of those affected by homelessness. We are working closely with Street Soccer NI and are delighted to lend our support, including sponsoring the kit for the squad.”
The project is run by Street Soccer NI, which works with homeless people and other marginalised groups through the medium of football. Its principal partners are Hosford and the IFA.