FORMER Institute footballer, Conor Deane captained the N. Ireland men’s Homeless World Cup team to an historic 12th place at the 2017 Homeless World Cup in Oslo last week.
Alongside fellow Derry men, Dominic Kelly and Jason Ward, Deane, who now plays with Maiden City Academy, led the N. Ireland team to their highest ever finish with over 50 countries represented in the 12th running of the competition.
I am now motivated to work instead of just lying about on the dole also I want to get into coaching because football is my passion.Conor Deane
In order to qualify to play in the tournament, players must have been homeless in the past year. Indeed, all three Derry lads have experienced homelessness and Deane believes the tournament has provided him with the opportunity and motivation to turn his life around.
“I was homeless for three months,” said Deane. “Street Soccer has helped me wise up and see things differently and not to give up when things are hard.
“I was over the moon when I was told I’m captaining the team in the World Cup.”
The N.I team got out of the group stages, and guaranteed a place in the last 16, with a hard fought victory over Costa Rica (4-3) in one of the best games of the tournament.
Another win over Ukraine put N. Ireland into 12th position - an amazing achievement in a very tough competition.
N. Ireland’s women’s team also made history as they were the first women’s team to represent NI at the Homeless World Cup. Brazil were this year’s men’s champions and Mexico won the women’s final.
The project is run by Street Soccer NI who use the power of football to transform the lives of people who are homeless. Street Soccer NI provide their players with support in housing, employability, and other areas where they need help and have seen the project have a huge impact on the lives of the participants.
Derry man, Deane, who once represented the city in the Milk Cup and played for NI under-18s had trials with Tranmere Rovers and Port Vale, enjoyed an outstanding tournament.
He claims the eight day tournament has had a hugely positive impact in transforming his life and he’s now hoping to turn his hand to coaching young footballers.
“I am now motivated to work instead of just lying about on the dole also I want to get into coaching because football is my passion.”
N. Ireland legend and ex- Spurs striker, Gerry Armstrong is a Street Soccer NI ambassador believes the tournament is a ‘wonderful opportunity’ to improve people’s lives.
“I am so pleased to be an ambassador for Street Soccer NI. What a great cause to be involved with and a wonderful opportunity to help people representing our country achieve their goals to compete in a World Cup competition, this can give them the confidence, belief and a chance to get jobs, and homes, and to improve their situation in life”.
IFA Foundation Director of Football Development and Chairman of Street Soccer NI, Michael Boyd, said: “I would like to congratulate all the players who participated in our Homeless World Cup squads this year, especially for our first ever women’s team, as they are pioneers and history makers. Participating in Oslo will enrich the lives of all and for some will open doors that enable lives to be transformed.”