Sign up to the Irish FA Newsletter today

Keep up-to-date with all the latest news from the Irish FA including ticket updates, match information, competitions, articles and much more.
Thank you

Friday 11 Sep 2015
Northern Ireland Kick Off Homeless World Cup

And Northern Ireland have been given the honour of kicking off the four-a-side tournament against hosts The Netherlands.

Northern Ireland will also face Russia, India, France and Finland in Group G of the tournament. Their first game is tomorrow at 11am.

The eight players representing Northern Ireland, all of whom have experienced homelessness, are Kevin Ward, James Shaw, Seweryn Folman, Richard McKay, Darren Spiers, Gerard Toner and Tomasz Jarzynski, who all hail from Belfast, along with Londonderry man Ciaran Bradley. The team is coached by Steven Weldon, a former captain of the Northern Ireland Homeless team.

Friends and supporters were joined at the Skainos Centre in Belfast yesterday by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Arder Carson, to wish the eight-man squad and their dedicated support team well in their bid for World Cup glory.

The team is run by Street Soccer NI who work with homeless people and other marginalised groups through the medium of football. Its main partners are Hosford (homelessness service of East Belfast Mission) and the Irish Football Association.

Street Soccer NI manager Justin McMinn said: ''This is a once in a lifetime experience for the players, a dream come true. Some of the team have never been on a plane before. Now they are representing their country at an international tournament in Amsterdam.”

Northern Ireland will be hoping to build on their international success in 2014 when they won the Accion Total Cup in Chile.

And the experience of representing their country and travelling to South America proved to be life-changing for members of that team. All have since been rehoused and a number have gone on to acquire IFA Level 1 coaching badges. 

Claire Adams, Outreach Project Officer from the Irish FA, said: “It is brilliant to see Team NI ready to support the Football for All message at the Homeless World Cup. The ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ campaign has united communities across the football fraternity, and we are delighted to have Team NI as ambassadors of this Respect message during the tournament.”

You can follow the Team NI campaign at the Homeless World Cup

More than 200,000 spectators are expected to watch players from over 50 countries compete for the 2015 Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam.

The tournament, which has sections for men and women, begins tomorrow with the finals being played next Saturday (19thSeptember).