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Best foot forward

September 10th 2009

‚Äö?Ñ??I‚Äö?Ñ?¥m a lot more eager and focused now due to the exercise‚Äö?Ñ??
While football players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka have been involved in record-breaking transfers this summer, some people would love the chance just to get a kick about with a few friends. Arranging a match can often be hindered by the challenge to find enough teammates, a decent pitch, or even a round shaped ball! But despair not, because Street Soccer Scotland is looking for keen players from socially disadvantaged backgrounds to kick off the new season. Weekly football sessions are held in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Argyll and Bute, and Castlemilk, with plans to extend the scheme to Paisley, Kilmarnock and Hamilton in the next six weeks. The practices are free to attend and provide training from qualified Scottish Football Association coaches, followed by five-a-side matches. Players have the chance to improve their fitness, teamwork and ball skills, as well as meeting new people in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. After being involved in the Homeless World Cup since 2004, Scotland Manager David Duke realised that there were few football opportunities for people who missed out on playing in the tournament. In March 2009 Duke founded Street Soccer to provide regular, accessible football sessions across the country. The scheme aims to encourage male and female participants who are homeless; working through mental health, drug or alcohol problems; or long-term unemployed. Players are not required to be involved in any other project and there is no need to pre-register with Street Soccer ‚Äö?Ñ?¨ it is fine to turn up on the day. The practices are suited to any skill level and Duke emphasises that the main aim is to ‚Äö?Ñ??improve health, confidence, and help build structure to the week‚Äö?Ñ??. Six months ago Street Soccer‚Äö?Ñ?¥s John Marshall was scoring drink and drugs rather than goals. Now he‚Äö?Ñ?¥s been picked for the eight-strong Homeless World Cup squad and will jet off to Milan on 6th September to play 54 other international teams. He said: ‚Äö?Ñ??I‚Äö?Ñ?¥d been homeless since I was 15, doing everything you shouldn‚Äö?Ñ?¥t be. I liked a game of football when I skived school, but it was not until six months ago when my hostel, Dunedin Harbour, got involved in a tournament that I got serious about it. Since then I‚Äö?Ñ?¥ve been off the drink and focusing on my future.‚Äö?Ñ?? John said: ‚Äö?Ñ??I can‚Äö?Ñ?¥t believe how it has come about. I was an alcoholic sleeping under a bridge but now I‚Äö?Ñ?¥ve got something to do with my life. I‚Äö?Ñ?¥m a lot more eager and focused now due to the exercise. Just playing football once a week has sorted me out.‚Äö?Ñ?? He‚Äö?Ñ?¥s also keen to coach up other homeless lads looking to get into the game. ‚Äö?Ñ??Street Soccer says I can train up over the next six months to become a football teacher. That‚Äö?Ñ?¥d be my full-time job and I‚Äö?Ñ?¥m sure it‚Äö?Ñ?¥ll keep me on the straight and narrow.‚Äö?Ñ?? A typical Street Soccer session lasts for two hours and involves around 15-25 players. The astroturf pitches provide a good surface for training and there is enough equipment and footballs to ensure everyone can fully take part. The practice begins with a light warm-up routine, which is followed by several ball control drills and then a five-a-side game. The players who attend the meetings show a willingness to learn about football, improve their skills and enjoy the social activity. Twenty-four year old Steven Anderson, who frequently attends the Street Soccer meetings, commented, ‚Äö?Ñ??Ability doesn‚Äö?Ñ?¥t matter, it‚Äö?Ñ?¥s attitude that‚Äö?Ñ?¥s important. The sessions are a great form of exercise and a chance to meet lots of people. Come along and try it!‚Äö?Ñ?? To ensure that Street Soccer sessions are providing the best possible service, the impact of the scheme is constantly evaluated through a partnership with Queen Margaret University. The research examines whether Street Soccer is delivering to its target audience, achieving best practice, and benefiting the participants and the community. People who attend the sessions are involved in this feedback process to ensure the long-term growth of the project. The Street Soccer programme has gathered significant momentum since March and there are many ideas for future development. A recent online television channel has been launched, with highlights of the Homeless World Cup trials in Glasgow and footage from previous international tournaments. It is hoped that female-only football sessions will start in 2010, and there is currently a Street Soccer Academy being piloted. Duke believes that the Academy is the next big step for the organisation. The plan is to run a 12-week course which covers life management, emotional management and career management. It is hoped that there will be the opportunity to work towards SFA coaching badges and through volunteering with Street Soccer, and providing a regular commitment to the programme, the participants can improve their employability by demonstrating a desire to work. As David Duke points out, the aim is that ‚Äö?Ñ??People can go to interviews, say what they've been doing, and be proud of it‚Äö?Ñ??. For anyone interested in the Street Soccer football sessions, attendance at any of the venues is actively encouraged. For further information, you can phone 0131 652 8190. The regular weekly calendar for Street Soccer meetings is: Monday ‚Äö?Ñ?¨ Castlemilk, Age 16+, 7pm‚Äö?Ñ?¨9pm, John Paul II Primary School Astro Pitch. Tuesday ‚Äö?Ñ?¨ Argyll & Bute, 6pm‚Äö?Ñ?¨8pm, Rothesay Community School Astro Pitch Edinburgh, 1pm‚Äö?Ñ?¨3pm, Sighthill PowerLeague pitches. Wednesday ‚Äö?Ñ?¨ Glasgow City, 2pm‚Äö?Ñ?¨4pm, Townhead PowerLeague pitches. Argyll & Bute, 5.30pm‚Äö?Ñ?¨7pm, Cowal Sports Complex, Dunoon. Friday ‚Äö?Ñ?¨ Edinburgh East, 1pm‚Äö?Ñ?¨3pm, Portobello PowerLeague pitches.

September 2009



Best foot forward

Jumping the gun

Doing the Kiltwalk

Sally forth

Homelessness Hurts

The soup report: The right help in the right place at the right time?

Space at Emmaus

MP's expense and being on the street

Anger at a common scene

Operation Loose Change

London's 15 per cent rise in homeless

Swine flu preparations made

Goings on at Novas

Westminster fails to follow up on street count accuracy

Inquest goes ahead as homeless man's family is found

Charities squabble with politicians over homeless rights

Bum fights caused 27 deaths last year

Professional beggars working in Leicester

Belfast local charged with murdering his nephew

Seattle "breached constitutional rights‚Äö?Ñ?? by refusing tent city

Thames Reach, Blenheim partner up

Homeless services to pay for banning animals

Economic crisis transforming US homeless population

Street Shield 7: The Missing Man


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