The Welsh homeless football body is up for a National Lottery award after launching a project to level the playing field between the two sexes.
Street Football Wales’ ‘Kick Some Balls project’ – backed by Lottery funding – has allowed five dedicated women-only football teams to be set up across all four of their leagues across the country for the first time.
The expanded player pool has been a boost to the Wales national Homeless World Cup side with 25 women taking part in trials, the same number as the men’s side.
Success has been already been tasted on the pitch with the project giving socially excluded woman the chance to participate in physical activity to boost their health.
The project has helped women like 37-year-old mum-of-three Deanne Sampson after she experienced significant trauma throughout her childhood, resulting in an adulthood blighted by violence, addiction and offending behaviour.
There are currently around 1,450 Big Issue sellers working hard on the streets each week.
A turning point came when she was selected for the Women’s Warriors team for the 2017 Homeless World Cup. The sport helped Dee develop more effective ways of communicating and expressing herself and helped her address her own addictions.
“Being involved in the Homeless World Cup has helped me with my confidence and when I think that I hadn’t played football earlier in the year – I was a netball girl at school – it’s incredible how much progress I have made so quickly,” she told The Big Issue last year.
“Before I started playing, I was drinking every day and I was having can after can of lager. Since I’ve started, I have stopped drinking completely and started eating more healthily too. And that is because I want to try my best and do the best I can.”
— Homeless World Cup (@homelesswrldcup) July 6, 2018
And that led to triumph at the European Street Football Festival last week when the Welsh women’s outfit scooped top prize.
Now it is chasing glory off the pitch in the National Lottery Awards, with the chance to win The winning project will receive £5,000 and appear on a BBC One awards show if they come out on top in the Sport category.
Voting runs until midnight on July 27 over the phone or via Twitter or the Lottery Good Causes website.
Project lead and Street Football Wales co-founder Keri Harris said: “Kick Some Balls has had a hugely positive impact on the number of socially excluded women participating in physical activity in Wales that ordinarily wouldn’t take part.”
The project is more than just football however. SFW also ran special swimming sessions with a female lifeguard and covered windows to engage 180 BME women who are culturally restricted from most pools.
Image: Street Football Wales/Homeless World Cup