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REBUILDING LIVES AND REPRESENTING WALES AT THE HOMELESS WORLD CUP

wales homeless world cup

We love football, like, properly head of heels in love with it. The passion, the pride, the way it makes us feel. But we also love the power of football and the positive effect it can have on the lives of people who’ve had a properly tough time in life.

Keri Harris set up an organisation that aims to improve the opportunities for those who are socially excluded in Wales.

Street Football Wales was founded in 2004 after Harris was tasked with selecting a team to represent the nation in the first Homeless World Cup.

It took place in Graz, Austria, and has since developed into an international sporting event.

Australia, Brazil and Denmark, Scotland are among some of the countries that have hosted the tournament.

Wales will once again field both a men and women’s team in this year’s competition which gets underway in Mexico next month.

Volunteer Wayne Ellaway captained Wales in the 2015 tournament in Amsterdam, but has taken up a coaching role with the women’s team, known as the Welsh Warriors.

He experienced past issues of drug abuse but used the power of football as a way of escaping his darkest moments.

“For me personally, I came from a dark place. I started playing football again and then Keri picked me for the Welsh squad,” said Ellaway.

“Within a few weeks I had been given the captain’s armband. I’ve never been so proud in all of my life.

“Becoming the Warriors’ coach this year has been an eye-opener, a bit more difficult, but I’m really enjoying it.”

Wales internationals Ashley Williams and Loren Dykes, as well as Hollywood actor Michael Sheen OBE are all ambassadors of Street Football Wales.

Ellaway feels the professionals who are associated with the organisation have a major impact on the players involved.

“It’s massive for the players because we’re vulnerable, or I certainly was. To see someone of such stature who they may never meet in their life is remarkable.”

Mexico City will host the 16th edition of the tournament on November 13 with the event taking place over five days.

More than 500 players from all-over the world will travel to North America where they will be greeted by an expected 200,000 spectators.

Ahead of Wales’ friendly against Spain at the Principality Stadium, the Homeless World Cup Foundation officially announced that the 2019 tournament will take place in Cardiff.

You can keep track of how they’re getting on by following Street Football Wales on Twitter . They’re also still crowdfunding for their trip and for the support the players need when they return from Mexico. If you want to support them or find out more about Street Football Wales you can do that here.

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