Hundreds of people facing the challenges of homelessness will show their strength and determination in overcoming adversity at a national football tournament on Thursday 24 September 2015. Some 40 teams from Salvation Army Lifehouses (residential centres) and supported housing across the United Kingdom will flock to Goals Manchester’s five-a-side pitches for the chance to be lift The Salvation Army’s Partnership Trophy.
The teams will be joined by footballing legend John Barnes MBE, who will present the trophy to the winning team and run a football masterclass. The former Liverpool/England player, who set a new record for black players of the time by recording 79 appearances for the national side, will also speak to the teams about his life and career.
People living in Salvation Army Lifehouses often face a range of obstacles in rebuilding their lives after experiencing homelessness, from addressing mental health issues or relationship breakdowns to facing up to drug or alcohol addictions.
John Barnes MBE said: ‘I’m looking forward to meeting the teams and to see how The Salvation Army is using sport to help people tackle the issues that pushed them into homelessness. Football can be such a great way for people to build relationships, boost their confidence and to grow and develop as a person.
‘It’s incredible to think The Salvation Army has been coming alongside people in their most vulnerable moments for the past 150 years, offering compassion, care and a listening ear. I’m looking forward to catching up with the teams next week and swapping stories with them.’
The Salvation Army’s Partnership Trophy is an annual event for men and women experiencing homelessness but who are currently living in Salvation Army Lifehouses (residential centres) and other supported housing units run by the Salvation Army Housing Association (SAHA). This year’s event takes place for the first time at Goals Manchester.
Last year a team from Logos House in Bristol took home the trophy, with London’s Booth House coming runner up. After their success last year the two teams also took on MPs and parliamentary staff in a charity match in Southwark.
This year up to 40 teams are competing in the Partnership Trophy, with people from Lifehouses across the country and as far afield as Glasgow, Skegness, Cardiff and Swindon.
Catrin Stark, The Salvation Army Homelessness Services’ Programme Development Manager, who organised this year’s event, said: ‘Every year we look forward to our Partnership Trophy as it is a fantastic opportunity to recognise all the achievements of our residents on and off the pitch. Those who play are facing different obstacles and are at different points on their journey but the football pitch is a brilliant equaliser for people, where the taking part, teamwork and challenge is the focus of the day, moving beyond the labels that people can so often place on them. We want them to capture that vision that “homeless is not who I am” – they are individuals of value and worth who we want to see triumph whatever challenges they face.
‘This year’s tournament will be a brilliant day out, and will also give our residents a sense of purpose as they work towards the day and train to beat the teams they have come up against in previous years. It also helps us to promote a healthy lifestyle in our centres, persuading residents to channel their frustrations, energy and determination into hard physical activity and learn through teamwork to manage how they handle pressure. For many it will be a great opportunity to meet one of football’s legends and to learn from him.’
Josh Allum has been staying at Bristol’s Logos House for two months and is gearing up for his first Partnership Trophy.
The 21-year-old cannot wait for the tournament and is hoping to make it three in a row for The Salvation Army’s Lifehouse in Bristol.
Josh said: ‘I thought when I came to the centre that it would just be a case of somewhere to stay. I didn’t think I’d get the chance of taking part in activities like football, never mind travelling to Manchester for a football tournament.
‘It's incredible. The tournament has been a good incentive for the guys on the team to stay fit and healthy, and because it’s a whole new team of players this year we’re under a bit of pressure to keep the winning run going.
‘Our coach Daniel England has been getting us in shape and has high expectations for us. We’re feeling confident and looking forward to the big day.
‘The only thing I’m maybe not looking forward to is getting up at half five in the morning for the team bus to Manchester. But we’ll have had a good night’s sleep and will be more than ready when the tournament kicks off.’
The Salvation Army’s emergency response unit will be providing refreshments during the course of the day and Pret a Manger provided lunch for all participants.