Northern Ireland have been steadily improving since their debut in 2013 – where they finished in 31st place. With a strong opening and only one loss in the first round, Northern Ireland played their way into the Men’s Plate competition. They scored 82 goals and finished in 13th place, the team’s best performance since joining the Homeless World Cup network in 2013.
The team was focused on more than just winning; player David McConnell describes football as “helping with all my emotions, it helps get everything out of me. It makes you feel accomplished at the end of the day to realise you weren’t out wasting your life on drink and drugs.
“I’ve met so many new people [at the Homeless World Cup], seen new things and it has shown me that I’m not alone, that I’m not the only person that is homeless or suffering from an addiction.”
Team Northern Ireland 2016 (Men’s)
Street Soccer NI is a football project that provides free weekly football sessions and education, including coaching courses.
With support from Comic Relief Sport for Change programme, the Irish Football Association (IFA) have secured funding for three years to run a “Beyond Football” programme alongside Street Soccer NI. This programme helps participants gain coaching and referee qualifications, mental health awareness, and employability skills. Some of their participants have now successfully finished the IFA-accredited coaching qualification.