Over 250 footballers representing 24 teams from all over the country came to the Postal Sports & Social Club in Kiltipper yesterday to take part in the Irish Homeless Street League All Ireland Finals.
They were cheered on by Minister for Children & Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone, Father Peter McVerry, Brother Kevin Crowley of the Cappucin Centre, representatives from the FAI, partners Arup and Irish Homeless Street League founder Sean Kavanagh along with some other high profile guests and supporters.
Speaking after watching a fantastic day of football, Minister Zappone said:
“Soccer has the power to transform lives.
“The skills, passion and excitement on display in Kiltipper is proof of this.
“As Minister I am committed to ensuring all our young people have access to sport.
“The Big Issue League and other sport focussed on children and teenagers who are homeless have a huge role to play.
“My Department recognises that and this year is providing over é20,000 to the league and the FAI for its work in this area.
“I note plans for the Street League to expand further – and I can confirm that they can count on me as a supporter in Government.”
Not only were the players competing yesterday to help their teams win the All Ireland Trophy, they were also out to impress the watching coaches who were using the tournament to help them select a panel of players to represent the Ireland Mens and Women’s teams in the Homeless World Cup, to be held in Oslo, Norway, Aug 29th – 5th Sept 2017.
Founded in 2001, the Homeless World Cup is a unique social movement that aims to use football to inspire homeless people around the world to change their lives.
With teams from over 70 countries, 100,000+ people take part in homeless leagues globally, delivering an annual tournament for the national teams.
For the first time ever, Ireland will be sending both a mens and women’s team to the Homeless World Cup and both teams will be hoping to build on the impressive showing by the men’s team in last years competition.
Excellent victories over Lithuania, Bulgaria, America, Greece and Sweden in the first two rounds of the tournament saw the team advance to within touching distance of the final only for the cruelty of a penalty shoot out to put them out of the tournament.
They then entered the second tier Men’s Plate competition and ended up winning the Plate to finish in ninth place overall, an amazing achievement considering over 70 countries took part.