Northern Ireland news

Street Soccer NI kicks off Homeless Awareness Week Cup in Belfast

Players Martin Methven (left) and Gerard Bannon (Right) have first hand experience of how street soccer has changed their lives
Andrew Madden

BOOTS are being laced up today for the annual Homeless Awareness Week Cup.

Street Soccer NI, in partnership with East Belfast Mission and the Housing Executive, are running the event at Grosvenor Community Centre.

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir is expected to take part in a penalty shoot-out before main tournament.

The organisation seeks to use football to change the lives of those who are homeless or from other disadvantaged groups.

Many of the players taking part in the tournament have first hand experience of how it has helped their situation.

In addition to football, Street Soccer NI also offers support with housing, employability and other issues that can affect their players.

Homeless Awareness Week runs until December 8 and includes a range or educational and social events across the north to highlight the issue of homelessness.

Michael Boyd, chairman of Street Soccer NI, said they are proud to be taking part in the programme of events.

“Street Soccer NI is about using the power of football to help people who are excluded to improve and transform their lives,” he said.

“Homelessness is a serious issue in Northern Ireland and we are committed to playing our part to tackle it.”

Curtis Bennott, one of the players taking part, spoke of how the sport benefited him personally.

“Street Soccer has helped keep me out of trouble and criminal activity,” he said.

“It’s helped me stay off all types of drugs including Class A drugs. It keeps me active and gives me something to look forward to.”

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