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18 June 2014

Housing sector sets fundraising goal to get Street Football Wales (SFW) players to World Cup

Community Housing Cymru (CHC), the representative body for Welsh housing associations will today (June 18th) kick-off a fundraising drive to help send two Street Football Wales teams to the Homeless World Cup.

The launch at the FesTYval event in Swansea will see CHC mobilise Welsh housing associations to team up and support SFW’s fundraising campaign, which has been chosen as the organisation’s charity of the year.

Street Football Wales is a social inclusion project run in partnership with the Welsh housing and care provider Gwalia. The project engages and supports individuals affected by homelessness, substance misuse and ill-mental health through street football leagues organised throughout Wales.

In October, 24 male and female players of SFW, all of whom have experienced homelessness and social exclusion, will be flying to Santiago in Chile to take part in the 12th annual Homeless World Cup, where over 64 countries are competing.

A total of £30,000 is needed to send the SFW players to the Homelessness World Cup and CHC hopes the sector, which is made up of more than 70 members, can raise £15,000 as a collaborative fundraising drive. SFW is also running a series of fundraising activities to reach their fundraising target.

Keri Harris, Project Leader for SFW said: “The players who will be selected for the Homeless World Cup are those who have trained hard over the year and all have shown great progress. Taking part in the annual tournament will give people a sense of self-worth, pride, respect from others, a sense of achievement and a desire to reach their life goals.”

“A number of SFW players have gone from living on the streets to turning their lives around, getting a home, a job with SFW and then helping others who are now in similar situations to what they were. SFW helps to transform people’s lives through the power of football.”

Speaking before the launch, CHC's Chief Executive Nick Bennett said: “SFW is a social inclusion charity which has struggled for many years to gain financial support. This was mainly due to it being one of the first organisations in the UK to use football as a tool to engage with some of the most disadvantaged people in society in a bid to end homelessness and poverty.

“As a sector, SFW’s aims and the issues they work to tackle to help those in need mirror so many of our own.

“SFW is helping to change and improve lives, reducing social exclusion and increasing empowerment and progression opportunities for so many people and so we are pleased as a sector to be able to help this great cause. I urge the sector to back the campaign, like Gwalia has, to help SFW’s bid for World Cup glory for Wales.”

Present at the launch at Festyval will be 10 times Tricks World Champion Ash Randall who will be entertaining guests with his amazing ball skills. SFW/CHC will also be holding collections and Score for Change – beat the goalie. CHC’s Chief Executive Nick Bennett and SFW’s Keri Harris, along with SFW Assistant Project Worker Bethan Clayton, will speak during the launch.

Other former homeless players whose lives have been transformed through the work of SFW are now giving back to the charity. Among those presently fundraising for SFW’s Chile bid is David John aged 25, from Swansea. Along with SFW colleague Geraint Edwards, the friends have secured places in Swansea's half marathon.

David said: “We were really lucky to get a place in the Swansea half marathon. It will be a challenge for me running 13 miles. Geraint and I will be training together but I will be passing the finishing line before him! I am very passionate about my team mates and the SFW initiative of tackling homelessness. We hope we can raise as much as possible to get to Chile.”

Another fundraiser is former homeless Newport woman and now SFW project worker Claire Rogers, aged 25, who will be challenging herself physically and mentally by skydiving in order to raise funds for their team members to get to Chile in October.

Claire, who now lives in Skewen said: “I am terrified of heights but I will do anything for a good cause. I have experienced homelessness and I know how my team feel, going to Chile will be an amazing experience for all of us and hopefully we will bring back a cup!”

The 12th annual Homeless World Cup tournament will be held in Santiago, Chile from 19-26 October. The eight day tournament will see 64 nations and more than 500 players competing for the World Cup title. The Welsh Warriors and Welsh Dragons will be leaving on 17 October.

Last year, the SFW female ‘Welsh Warriors’ made it to the finals, missing out on the cup against England scoring 4-5 in penalty shootout, with the male team, ‘The Welsh Dragons’, placing fourth after defeating Switzerland in the quarter finals. Now the teams have their sights set on achieving further success in Chile.

The SFW World Cup team will be announced in July.