It is always nice to be able to give a little back. We have all fallen on hard times at some point in our lives and have needed a bit of help to get back on our feet, which is why when we heard about a special charity that gives homeless people a chance to feel part of a team, to feel empowered developing their skills and abilities through the game of football, we knew we had to help.
England’s national homeless football association, the Homeless FA, is the only one of its kind in the UK. Their work is based on the promotion of positive self-perception, whilst changing negative public perceptions of the people experiencing homelessness. The Homeless FA want to show football’s potential to support the most vulnerable members of society and this includes education about the complex needs and challenges facing the homeless.
The Homeless FA selects and manages Homeless Team England and is the designated national partner of the Homeless World Cup. Everybody experiencing homelessness has the chance to represent Homeless Team England. The squad is selected using inclusive assessment criteria, such as positive attitude, teamwork, commitment, interpersonal skills, organisational skills, and improved physical health.
As part of an official affiliate partnership of the FA, all Team England squad players are invited to train at the FA’s National Football Centre at St George’s Park and participate in international games and in mid-November the International Street Football Festival 2015 was hosted in Victoria Warehouse in Manchester.
The Homeless FA’s Team England joined players from Mexico, Scotland and the Netherlands. The international players were from a range of different backgrounds but all have worked with organisations who are committed to changing lives through football. Though competitive and entertaining, the street football matches themselves were the conclusion of a week-long team building event full of learning, personal reflection, new friendships and collaboration between like-minded organisations from all over the world. From achieving personal goals and gaining self-respect and self-confidence to interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds, the festival reflects the Homeless FA’s aim to transform players’ lives in ways which go far beyond the football pitch.
It was an exciting landmark in the continuing international movement to change lives through football and we at Evergreens UK saw an opportunity to help in a small way. After all, football and artificial grass kind of go hand in hand. The football matches were played on the hard, concrete, floor of the warehouse so we decided to donate a couple of 8m diameter semi-circle mats to help protect the goalies when they dived for the ball. We chose from our Springfield Curl range. This low pile product (6mm) is very dense allowing it to be fitted without the use of sand and without too much disruption to the surface of the playing area. We wanted a nice vibrant colour to help brighten the area up and opted for the red to match the barrier displays. We also incorporated a 12mm shock pad that was laminated to the grass before being cut to the required shape by our automated cutting machines. We finished it off with a rubber bevel around the edges so that the players would not trip and the ball would roll onto the mats.
Read more at the Homeless FA website.
Photo credit – Joana Freitas.