Nine is the magic number for Jesper

Football has been Jesper’s passion as long as he can remember. He has had an eye on the ball since childhood, wearing jersey #9, which is also his lucky number. Jesper is thrilled to be part of the Danish Dynamite team in Cardiff—as player #9, of course!

Around a year ago, life took a sudden turnaround for Jesper. After a breakup with his girlfriend he was in a situation without a place to call home. Couch surfing was his new reality. Never knowing next day’s sofa and with no near prospect of more permanent housing, life got more and more difficult for Jesper. This led to substance abuse and a feeling of indifference. When Jesper then lost his job, he also lost purpose.

Despite his struggles, Jesper had the courage to call out for help. Two good friends took him under their wings and got him in contact with a local treatment and housing facility. Jesper is now living there, has quit drugs, and is on a positive path to finding himself again—one step at a time.

“Nine months ago I faced my first night at this new facility. I felt so alone, so miserable, and with little hope for the future. Sleep was impossible, so I went to the living room area and there was a girl, the girl!”

The two of them got into talking and have been talking for nine months, now as couple.

Through the treatment and housing facility, Jesper was introduced to OMBOLD and their Asphalt Liga. Established in 2003, OMBOLD offers drop-in sessions in nine cities across Denmark each week and works closely with local communities, shelters, drug treatments centres, and other services.

Jesper’s talent was quickly spotted by the national team coaches and he got selected for this year’s Danish Homeless World Cup team.

“The day I got told to join the Danish team for the Homeless World Cup in Cardiff was an exceptionally good day,” says Jesper, smiling.

The players have met for joint trainings camps around Denmark to get to know each other, build up the team trust and spirit and, of course, to get the ball rolling.

“When heading to Cardiff, we had a strong wish: to play the opening match. The draw was electrifying, and when Denmark came up to play Wales it was truly a wish come true. What a game, what a cheering crowd, just awesome and something I will never forget.”

Words: Mette Tang
Images: Mile 44