Sporting activities aren’t just good for health and wellbeing – they also cement teamwork skills and encourage a bit of friendly competition.
For homeless individuals who are having trouble socialising, it can be an ideal time to meet other people who know what they have been through.
The homelessness services in and around Liverpool decided to host an inter-service five-a-side football cup with these goals in mind. Church Housing Trust funded essentials that made the day possible, including travel expenses, a trophy for the winning team, and individual medals for both the winners and runners up.
The trophies were a massive hit, as most of the players had never received one before. Service users from tournament winners Art & Soul said the day “was great for the service and all who played and supported us. Meeting new people and having lads wanting to join the team was the best part of the day.”
There was a fantastic turnout, with around 80 people – six teams, plus family and friends to provide valuable support – getting together for the friendly tournament. Although the football was the main attraction, the feeling at the end of the day was of strengthened community spirit, and afterwards the atmosphere continued to be friendly all mixing with each other, sharing food, soft drinks and banter also friendly advice.
The teams were made up of service users from different projects in the Liverpool area, including Parkview drug and alcohol rehab centre, and its supported housing; The Bridge Project supported housing for men and women recovering from addiction; Art & Soul, an organisation supporting the community with training, education, and pursuit of hobbies for addicts; and Peninsular Angling, a charity-based fishing club in Birkenhead helping disadvantage children, families and adults who have had a history of substance misuse.
Everyone enjoyed the day out as a chance to see friends, make new friends, and get information about other support services they could access. Some new players were invited to sign up for Art & Soul football team, and some have shown interest in the fishing club. Doing this in an informal way this helped with their confidence and self-worth.
Charlie, from Parkview treatment centre, said that the day’s highlights were “seeing the faces of the participants when they saw the trophies was great, seeing them play the best they could, mixing with other services, making friends, seeing old friends were still alive. They did themselves proud.”
Staff arranged the tournament to strengthen relationships between men and women from the different services, for whom a network of support is vital. They also knew that it would build self-esteem and confidence on an individual level, and give service users the opportunity to work together as a team. Regular football tournaments give them new challenges, and the training is also incredibly beneficial to their physical and mental health.
Everton in the Community, Everton Football Club’s charitable organisation, provided the pitch and the referees. They also offered free fitness programmes and voluntary work to the participants, and gave out free tickets to football games.