A question he’s deflected more than once during his weekend in Edinburgh but, as Tom Jones of Wales bounds across the green, green artificial grass of the home pitch at the Four Nations Challenge, you’ve just got to ask the obvious about his vocal chords.
“No, I can’t sing,” laughs this Thomas Jones, proudly sporting the red number 6 jersey of Street Football Wales, having just given his all for the team.
His new-found love for the round ball has come at the expense of a previous relationship with the oval one, however!
“Rugby was my game, growing up,” he explains. “I was a number eight, the player who took all the bit hits.”
A bigger dent, in what had been a regular childhood growing up in south Wales, saw Tom’s life spiral out of control a few years ago.
“I chose drugs over family, basically,” he states. “ I’ve still got some working on that to do but I’m getting there. I’m in Merthyr and there’s a lot of homeless people around. I was homeless and got placed in a hostel.”
It was through a fellow resident at the hostel that football, and Edinburgh, came into Tom’s life.
“One of the boys in the hostel told me about the street football. I didn’t really fancy going at first then went down, loved it and have been going ever since.
“The first time I joined the group I didn’t know anybody and my anxiety was going through the roof. Now we’ve had a couple of weeks together and we’re all best friends now. The training was really tough but it pays off in the end. We train Mondays and Fridays, Mondays are harder training sessions, Fridays are a bit easier.
“They’re a good bunch of boys and I can’t ask for anything else.”
Standing in the centre of Scotland’s capital city, representing his country, Tom can hardly believe how far he’s come in such a short space of time.
“They [Street Football Wales] told us we were coming here four weeks ago – feels like yesterday – and here I am. Standing on the pitch, with the anthem being played, with the boys, was just unreal. Amazing. Playing for your country is just such a massive thing and the size of the crowds here is mad.
“My mum and my nan back in Wales are following what’s going on here, too, they’re watching on Facebook.”
As he gazes round at his temporary surroundings, pointing out the historic buildings, his team mates warming down post match, and the band warming up in the background for the post-tournament party, Tom’s voice begins to waver and he takes a deep breath.
“It’s a turning point in my life, being here, definitely.”
Words: Isobel Irvine
Images: Homeless World Cup Foundation