Michael Sheen admitted that he was going to have to return to acting after stumping up some of the cash for Cardiff to host the Homeless World Cup from his own pocket.
But he has dug deep again to support the Welsh women’s team’s goalkeeper Jennifer Gattrell in her bid to gain sponsorship for her new club side Newport City.
The side formed in the summer and played their first game in the South Wales Women’s & Girls’ League Division One last week.
Wot an unbelievable tournament, a massive thank you to @michaelsheen without ur hard work and help, cardiff wouldn't of had the world cup, it's been a honor to have worked with you leading up to the tournament, it's hard to believe ur a superstar, such a lovely man, pic.twitter.com/DIO0QYd0SZ
— jennifer gattrell (@j_gattrell) August 5, 2019
Ahead of their debut, Gattrell set up an online fundraiser to raise £1,500 to help the team cover their costs and pay for their kit as they continued their search for sponsors.
The 34-year-old told The Big Issue she was stunned when she received notification that Sheen had donated £200 while out playing bingo.
“Michael Sheen has been fantastic. He’s such a generous man and he’s great as a person as well. I’m not just saying that because he is famous – he hasn’t let fame get to him,” said Gattrell. “I’ve actually seen him since the tournament it was really, really nice to see him again.
“I was actually sat in bingo when I got the notification that Michael Sheen had donated that much and I was just like, “wow!”.”
The Big Issue has inspired the launch of 120 street papers globally, including sister titles in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
Gattrell’s appearance at the Homeless World Cup on home turf in Cardiff this summer was a long time coming.
Despite being involved with Street Football Wales for a number of years, mental health struggles have meant that she was never in a fit position to play.
But she insists that her experience playing in goal for her country in July and August was one to remember and “taught her a lot about herself and what she is capable of”.
Now she is keen to continue playing the sport that has already such a huge role in her life and has raised £640 of her £1,500 target on GoFundMe while the team have attracted sponsorship from grassroots project Women of Newport.
“Football is my life,” said Gattrell, who has previously been homeless. “When you go out on that pitch, you’re a different you. You’re all playing together and there is no criticising and you can forget about your life off the pitch and united as one team. Without football, to be honest, I think I would be on drugs as well as homeless.
“(SFW founder) Keri Harris kept me going, if it wouldn’t have been for him then I would have been on the streets. Football is who I am.”
Newport City are still on the lookout for sponsors as well as players for their under-16s side. Donate to their online fundraiser here