Monday, June 23, 2003

Final touch for homeless players

Wales' national homeless football team are putting the finishing touches to their ball skills ahead of the first ever international street football tournament.
The Welsh squad is made up of homeless people from Cardiff and Swansea who initially played in separate teams in the two cities.

But they united to form a national team and have been trained by professional coaches at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff since May.

They will be holding their final training session on 26 June before leaving for the tournament, which is taking place in Austria in July.

The Football Association of Wales has given its backing to the players and has provided a strip for the team.

The football competition has been organised by the International Network of Street Papers and is backed by Europe's ruling football body, Uefa.


The Welsh team, along with its counterparts from Scotland and England, is being supported by the social business The Big Issue.

Su West from the Big Issue Cymru told BBC News Online an organisation called the Street Soccer League had secured funding for the flights for the three British teams.

She added: "Our individual supporters and corporate subscribers have given more than £1,000 to cover the other costs.

"The only thing we need to arrange now is transport to and from Stansted."


Street football is popular in many developing countries.

It involves a team of eight players, with four on the pitch at any one time including one acting as goalkeeper.

Over 20 teams from around the world are expected to participate in the tournament, including representatives from reigning world champions in the 11-man game, Brazil.