Guest blogger, Declan McSweeney, reports on the team from Liverpool heading for next week’s tournament in Mexico
Liverpool is best known for its two great football clubs, Everton FC and Liverpool FC, with Tranmere Rovers just ‘over the water’ in Birkenhead.
The rivalry of the reds and blues is a central feature of life in the city, but in recent years, efforts have been made to get its homeless population involved in football.
Liverpool Homeless Football Club (LHFC) has been in existence for five years, and is linked to the Homeless FA, led by Gareth Parker, who recently visited Liverpool to attend a training session at the Power League in the Pits area.
While initially the focus was solely on homeless men, in recent months women have begun to get involved.
Two local women, Jess Lomax from Huyton and Becca Mushrow from Toxteth, have been selected as part of the England team which will be involved in the World Homeless Games in Mexico City, starting on 6 October until 14 October.
LHFC, which is chaired by John Finnegan, works closely with Everton in the community, and when you visit a training session, you will see that the women are dressed in the club’s strip.
In addition to Everton, other clubs around England which support the initiative in their own areas are Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal.
Henry Mooney, engagement officer of Everton in the Community, said that the project gave the women a chance to qualify for Community Sports Awards. He stressed that it gave them greater confidence and helped them make friends.
Last year’s games were won by Scotland, which is entering again this year, while Wales is entering for the first time. There is no team from Northern Ireland, though there is one from the Republic of Ireland. In all, over 50 countries will be represented at the Mexican games.
One of the players, Gillian Velkoza, said she started playing just six weeks ago, and is hoping to get a team organised in Liverpool’s Whitechapel Centre. Her sister (they are, in fact, two of triplets), Louise, got involved at the same time, and says she is ‘excited’ about getting involved, and wants to train as a football coach.
Jess Lomax has been playing football since she was 10, but only got involved in LHFC four months ago. She hopes to become a professional player.
Becca Mushrow has also played since she was a child and is looking forward to a ‘once in a lifetime experience’ in Mexico.
She adds she is ‘lucky to be coached by Rachel and Fara’, referring to Rachel Brown and Fara Williams.
Brown, a goalkeeper with Everton’s ladies’ team, has also played for England and was on Team GB during the Olympics. She has been a patron of LHFC for the past six years and is full of praise for its work.
Williams, who is a national patron of the Homeless FA, has been an England captain, and has personal experience of homelessness.
The Homeless World Cup Foundation explains that it: “uses the power of football to attract homeless people and offer them the chance to change their lives.
Homelessness can force people into isolation, which affects their ability to share, communicate their thoughts and work with others. Day-to-day survival needs take priority over longer term planning – often resulting in a chaotic lifestyle.”
“When a homeless person gets involved in football they communicate and build relationships with others; they become team mates, learning to trust and share; they have a responsibility to attend training sessions and games, to be on time and prepared to participate. They feel part of something.
These skills and attributes are all transferable to daily life and therefore help homeless people see that they can change their lives.
Our national partners provide, or provide access to, the professional services needed – educational, employment, health or legal advice. They also run tournaments and trials to select the eight players who make the journey to the annual tournament, and support them in making the most of this experience on their return afterwards… moving on in their lives and becoming the models and ambassadors for other homeless people in their countries.
Whilst the national teams are important and the players go on to have a life-changing experience, they are only the tip of the iceberg and represent only a small proportion of the people positively impacted by our work.”
Read the full article here.
This news item has been reproduced from today’s media. It does not necessarily represent the opinion of Kop That.