Homeless pair bid for World Cup place

TWO former homeless men from Ipswich are today due to compete for a place in the England team for the Homeless World Cup.

Naomi Cassidy

TWO former homeless men from Ipswich are today due to compete for a place in the England team for the Homeless World Cup.

Daniel Welham and Luis Almeida, who used to be homeless but are now living at the YMCA in Wellington Street, are going up against 60 other men and women from across the country to gain one of the eight places in the squad.

If selected they will then be off to Italy in September to play other homeless teams from across the world.

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The aim of the competition is to use the power of football for the purposes of social inclusion, to highlight the issue of homelessness and to transform people's lives.

A group of eight men from Ipswich's YMCA recently went to Manchester City's academy- just round the corner from their home at Eastlands - for one of the nine regional trials.

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Mr Welham and Mr Almeida were among the 62 people picked for the next round out of 370 entrants.

Today they were due to go to Manchester United's community training facility for the next round and their performance will determine whether they are chosen.

Speaking ahead of their trial, Mr Almeida, 30, a defender for Ipswich Wolves, which needs sponsorship, said: “I would say I'm an average player. I'm just going to play my football and see what happens.

“I have been at the YMCA for two years after I lost my job and couldn't pay my bills.”

Mr Welham, 25, who plays football every weekend and has been at the YMCA for six months, said: “I am looking forward to it. I went into the first round with a good attitude and did my best. I was shocked to get through.

“I hope I get to go to Milan-that would be amazing.”

Paul Morrison, senior support worker at the Ipswich YMCA, said: “I hope they get through to the next round. They are really nervous.”

The Big Issue In The North, together with a number of Premier League and Championship football clubs, organises and selects the England team that travels to compete in the Homeless World Cup.

The final squad of eight players will be selected in June 2009 and the games will take place in Milan from September 6 to 13.

Have you achieved something special? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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