Salvation Army Keeps Eye On The Ball To Tackle Homelessness With Annual Football Tournament 

The Salvation Army’s annual football tournament will kick off next week with 30 teams from The Salvation Army’s homelessness services around the UK competing to win The Partnership Trophy.    

Special guest, former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, will sound the starting whistle on the tournament which takes place at GOALS, Manchester on Thursday 28 September.  

Now in its twelfth year, The Partnership Trophy is run by The Salvation Army – a church and charity and its subsidiary, The Salvation Army Housing Association (SAHA). The competition brings together football teams from Lifehouses (hostels) and outreach programmes, for a friendly five-a-side tournament to boost morale, improve mental health and raise awareness of homelessness.  

It is one of the many ways the church and charity promotes positive and independent living for its service users and reinforces the message that helping people to move on from homelessness is more than just providing a roof over someone’s head.  

Nathan Slinn, assistant director of the Homelessness Services Department for The Salvation Army, said: “Our annual Partnership Trophy celebrates everyone within our homelessness services, recognising the challenges and trauma that many people have overcome, and acknowledging the journey that they are on to be the best version of themselves.  

“Sport is an excellent activity to boost both mental and physical health, build on social skills and make friendships. There are often very complex reasons that people find themselves homeless and this tournament reinforces our ethos that our services provide so much more than just a roof; we’re committed to ending the cycle of homelessness– and this is what this event is all about.”  

Special guest, former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton will be cheering on the teams and inspiring players throughout the day. He will share top football tips, as well as his own experiences of tackling addiction after he revealed in 2020 that he had overcome a 45-year chronic gambling addiction and learnt to adapt to a new way of life following a traumatic experience, something that many players within the tournament will be able to relate to in some way.  

Nathan added: “We’re thrilled Peter Shilton will join us on the day, supporting and cheering on our residents. The common goal here is that we share a passion for supporting people who are homeless. Having a well-known, popular figure give up their time to come will make such a difference to everyone’s day.”  

This year’s football tournament will once again be backed by the Guardiola Sala Foundation (GSF) for the fifth year running, a humanitarian charity set up by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and his family, who attended the event in 2019.  

CASE STUDY  

Scott^, 24, from Lancashire has been a resident at a Salvation Army Lifehouse for the past three months after arriving with just the clothes he was wearing. He had spent three weeks living in a tent in a cemetery following the breakdown of his relationship with his son’s mother. Now with the support of The Salvation Army, Scott is on track to getting his life back together. He said:

Being welcomed into the football team and given the chance to play in a big tournament is exciting; being a footballer is a dream you have as a little boy, and I am now able to live it! The tournament has given me something to look forward to and being part of a team feels like a family, something I’ve never really had before.  

Knowing that I’ll be playing against many other people around the UK who are or have been in a similar position to myself is reassuring and feels like we’re united, and all have the same goal; to do ourselves proud. The weekly training has already boosted my mental and physical health and I feel like I’m a new person, I feel like a good person. I just want my son to be proud of me, plus it will be great to put my skills to the test and enjoy a kickabout with him after the match! I’ve hit rock bottom before and couldn’t see a way out but now I wake up every morning feeling happy and ready for the day ahead and that’s thanks to the staff at The Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army is one of the largest homelessness charities operating in the UK, providing more than 3,000 places for people in Lifehouses (hostels) across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.   

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