After finding himself in a destructive cycle of prison sentences, sofa surfing and substance misuse by 2014 Wayne Ellaway had almost given up on life.
However, during a stay at a hostel in Cardiff, Wayne had a conversation with someone from Tŷ Gobaith Lifehouse – part of the Salvation Army – who told him about an organisation called Street Football Wales, which promotes social inclusion and personal development through football. Despite his state of mind and self-esteem being at rock bottom, Wayne had always had an interest in football, and so he decided to go along to a training session.
Wayne immediately felt at home at Street Football Wales, and fully immersed himself in the experience, attending regular training sessions and match days. With a natural flair for the sport, in just a few short months Wayne went from training with Street Football Wales to being asked to take part in trials for Wales’ Homeless World Cup squad heading to the 2015 tournament in Amsterdam.
That moment was a turning point for Wayne, but little did he know he was about to be picked for the Welsh team and his life would change forever.
After his first Homeless World Cup tournament, an experience he says he will never forget, Wayne felt his confidence and self-worth return. Since then, his involvement with Street Football Wales has allowed him to fulfil a lifelong dream of travelling to south America, when he was asked by Street Football Wales director Keri Harris to accompany the 2018 squad to the Homeless World Cup tournament in Mexico.
It’s been four years since Wayne’s first tournament, and he is now the head coach for Street Football Wales and also works for Big Issue Cymru as a sales and outreach worker. He is drug-free and lives in a flat in Cardiff, his first proper home in a long time.