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Ipswich homeless football team come close to cup victory

PUBLISHED: 12:34 04 October 2018

Lads from the Salvation Army hostel in Ipswich battled it out at the tournament Picture: BETHANY GIBSON

Lads from the Salvation Army hostel in Ipswich battled it out at the tournament Picture: BETHANY GIBSON

Victoria Tetley / VJT Photography

A team of homeless people from Ipswich took part in a national football competition.

The Lyndon House team after a hard session training for the tournament Picture: BETHANY GIBSONThe Lyndon House team after a hard session training for the tournament Picture: BETHANY GIBSON

The competition brought together 32 teams from across the UK with the Ipswich squad made up of people from the Salvation Army Lifehouse hostel at Lyndon House in Fore Street, which offers accommodation and specialist support to 39 homeless men.

Stephen Gray is a specialist support worker at Lyndon House and founded the football team.

He said: “I couldn’t be more proud of the effort and commitment from the team.

“You could see how much this tournament meant to them and how much they enjoyed themselves.

Lyndon House were knocked out in the semi-finals of the tournament Picture: BETHANY GIBSONLyndon House were knocked out in the semi-finals of the tournament Picture: BETHANY GIBSON

“Maybe next year we can go further and bring back a trophy?”

Kelly Smith, known as the UK’s greatest female footballer, attended the day as a special guest.

Smith is the current top scorer for England women’s team with 47 goals but struggled with addiction during her career.

She was open about her own issues with alcohol and inspired the players by taking part in a Q&A over a lunch, which was donated by Partnership Trophy supporters, Pret A Manger.

Ms Smith said: “It was great to be able to talk to everyone at lunchtime about my journey as a footballer, leaving home at 16 and moving to America to pursue my career and dream of being a professional footballer, and the challenges I faced with injury.

“Struggling with alcohol addiction for a number of years, being quite isolated and insecure about myself and sharing my story of how I’ve overcome those challenges.

“I think football brings a lot of people together and makes you forget about your problems - when you’re out there and playing as a team and it’s the feel good factor and that’s certainly what The Salvation Army has accomplished today in my opinion.

“It’s just been a great day.”

After coming top of their group in the tournament, Lyndon House were beaten 3-1 buy Ann Fowler House from Liverpool.

The Salvation Army is a church and charity dedicated to caring for people who are vulnerable or in need.

It has several Lifehouse hostels on Bramford Road, Woodbridge Road and Queensway.

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