By Gregor Dow
Photo: Alex Walker
Isabella ‘Bella’ Black is attending the Homeless World Cup this week as a goalkeeper for the USA women’s team. I spoke to her following a narrow 6–5 defeat to the Welsh team. Unfortunately a knee injury has curtailed Black’s involvement, but she gives greats support to her teammates as we watch the game unfold.
Bella, 23, hails from San Francisco, California and is visiting Scotland for the first time. “I’ve worked my butt off in training for two years to get here. My coach put me forward for the national trials for the American team last year in order to make this years Homeless Word Cup squad. They announced the nominees last year following a national tournament in Philadelphia and I made it.”
The organisation in question in Street Soccer USA, a Homeless World Cup national partner, and Bella is clearly a fan: “Tiffany and Lisa my coaches are the greatest coaches I’ve met in a long time, and I love them for it. They are family. Football has allowed me to grow connections with people I never have been able to before.”
Bella, who tells me she is an open book and happy to talk me about anything, goes on to tell me that she had major problems with her own family. “Growing up with a family of nine, it’s kind of hard to get attention to yourself. With them hating me for who I am, they decided to kick me out so I moved to San Francisco by myself.
“I identify myself as Intersex. It just means I was born differently. My family didn’t like the fact that I liked ladies and that I wanted to marry a girl and not a guy. That was kind of shocking to them. I was so different from everyone else, they couldn’t live with it.”
A period of homelessness followed for Bella—couch surfing, staying in homeless shelters. Happily that’s not where her story ends.
“I met a girl who I really liked. She became the most important person in my world. We got married nine months ago in San Francisco and she became my best friend. She has helped me break a lot of my barriers. I have my own place now and although it costs a lot, we want to have our own place together in the future.”
In terms of Glasgow, she tells me she has made lots of friends. She has a particular affinity for players in Welsh team.
“I could never have imagined making friends with people from Wales. Being here is so crazy, but so much fun. Glasgow is a perfect city. It’s really exciting to be here.”
As for the future, Bella tells me that she and her partner want to move to Los Angeles and have an apartment together.“She wants to become a school teacher and I want to join the FBI. I want to help make the world a better place.”