A Derry man has spoken of how taking part in the Homeless Soccer initiative has helped turn his life around.
Ryan Sharkey is this week representing Northern Ireland in the first Homeless Soccer 5 Nations Cup, along with fellow Derry man Jason Ward.
For 23-year-old Ryan, the tournament in Belfast will cap a transformation that has seen him kick his alcohol addiction and turn his life around.
“I’ve been involved with the football since I loved into the Strand Foyer 14 months ago.
“It’s kept me out of trouble and I try to get friends involved in the football as well. I feel like I can do more, it’s given me that self-belief.”
He added; “It feels great to represent my country; my life has changed from where I was three years ago.
“Being involved with the team has helped me beat my alcohol addiction and has given me a real confidence boost in my ability. My goal is to get a job and get a house and provide for my baby that’s on the way in January.”
Ryan is a regular at the Street Soccer Derry project which meets weekly at Magee.
Street Soccer NI has announced that the homeless women’s team will compete for the first time in the inaugural Homeless 5 Nations Cup.
The four-a-side tournament started yesterday and continues today (Friday) at Queens Physical Education Centre in Botanic Park. The Cup will see 80 players from the Republic, Scotland, Wales, England, and north, who have experienced homelessness, come together to compete.
Justin McMinn, coordinator of Street Soccer NI, said: ‘It’s brilliant to have two Derry players in this team. The Derry project (Thursdays 8 to 10pm Magee Campus) is going from strength from strength with growing numbers each week. After this tournament we will be developing the first ever Homeless World Cup women’s team and will have trials in Derry and Belfast.”