Issues Street League
Life can be unkind, often unfair and sometimes your
prospects and future depends on the start you get in life. Just
think for a moment how your life would have been if you were born
into unfavourable circumstances. Without the benefit of the support
mechanisms that we all take for granted or a reasonable education,
where job opportunities were few and your sense of self worth very
low. It is not hard to imagine how difficult your life may have
This is something I have pondered over for many years and wondered
what could I do to help. As a child growing up in Crumlin the one
thing all lads had in common was the love of football whether you
came from a rich or a poor background when you played football in
the street you were all equal and for a moment you could forget
about whatever troubled you. I knew from my work with Ireland’s
Issues Magazine that there were many young people out there who
felt detached from mainstream society and for whom the Celtic Tiger
didn’t exist. They were living lives in quiet desperation.
I wanted to find a way to use the positive force of sport to raise
self-esteem, build confidence and add discipline to lives that had
known only set backs and criticism. The benefits of participating
in sporting activity was further enhanced when with the help of
Ireland’s Issues Magazine I brought a team of Homeless lads
to participate in the inaugural Homeless World Cup in Austria in
2003. I could see at first hand the changes that occurred in the
lads, their sense of pride when putting on the Green Jersey of Ireland
and how for probably the first time they had a sense of self worth
and optimism for the future. Unfortunately after the tournament
was over and they returned home from representing their country
to the reality of life on the streets, that optimism was diminished.
I decided then that I would have to develop a proper structured
program. With the gem of an idea and with the help of my colleague
Michael Harmon and Mick Pender our coach and no money we went knocking
on doors for support. It was tough, -there are many worthy causes
looking for support- eventually I met Aaron O Callaghan of Dublin
City council sports development dept and he was very encouraging
and helped us set up a pilot project in Sheriff Street. The success
of that project encouraged us and we have moved forward each year
since. We now have 6 Leagues running in the greater Dublin area
with leagues running in both Limerick and Cork and Leagues being
set up in Galway, Athlone, Waterford and Longford.
A Street League is also up and running in Wheatfield prison it is
hoped that this will compliment the rehabilitation process and enable
people on release to join up with one or our other leagues.
We also bring a team selected from the Street Leagues to participate
in the Homeless World Cup, which this year will be held in Australia.
Our primary target groups are:
The Homeless, Drug and alcohol dependant individuals in
rehabilitation, Ex-offenders, Long-termed unemployed with identified
learning disabilities, Refugee and asylum seekers, Hostels, Age
range 16 – 40
While the leagues are male dominated the possibility of females
taking part is being investigated
To build self-esteem, self-confidence and self-discipline. To develop
communication skills and to provide access to lifestyle opportunities,
in sport, education, skills training and employment.
To provide people with the basic tools necessary to enable them
to move on in life.The Leagues run throughout the year usually 4
terms of 10 weeks with short breaks in between.
Kavanagh (Founder Ireland’s Issues Magazine’s Street
01 8735137 / 087 2238108
Impact study report;
• 92% players have a new motivation for life
73% have changed their lives for the better
93 players successfully addressed a drug or alcohol dependency
35% have secured regular employment
44% have improved their housing situation
39% chose to pursue education
72% continue to play footballWhile these statistics are just numbers
just think of the impact on a personal level and on society if someone
addresses a drug problem, gets a job, goes back to education. The
ripple effect can be substantial as the supporting quotes indicate.
“Crosscare is committed to the ideal of providing
social education through sport and views the Street Soccer League
as a pivotal facet in our ongoing work of redressing the inequalities
and social exclusion that young people in homeless situations find
Paul Flynn, Crosscare Aftercare Support Unit
future plans for Homeless Street Leagues and World Cups have the
full backing of An Garda Siochana and we hope to continue our involvement
in helping to develop this initiative”.
Kevin O Hagan, Sergeant, Community Policing Office,
we have noticed a change in the people who are participating. They
are very enthusiastic about the project and are always on time for
the games. It has also boosted morale for the individuals and provides
a focus to their week. The project has had other benefits also.
It creates a talking point in the service and participants are more
motivated to take care of themselves and try to become fitter”.
Sean Fagan, Homeless and Drug Service
Therapeutic Community would like to thank you for the opportunity
of allowing the clients on our programme to take part in the recent
football tournament. We have found that the clients thoroughly enjoyed
the experience. The tournament helped to generate a new found enthusiasm
that encourages residents to look at alternative activities to drug
taking. It is hoped that this is the beginning of fruitful and a
lasting relationship that will benefit all parties involved”.
Paul Hatton, Coolmine Therapeutic Community
“It gives our clients a chance to interact with people
from all walks of life which we find has given them great encouragement.
They are enjoying going out and meeting new people. They are very
motivated when it comes to training and games and they work great
as part of a group”.
John Dowling, Clondalkin Addiction Support Programme
Ireland’s Issues Street Leagues
30 Gardiner Place, Dublin 1
Partners and Sponsors
Football Association of Ireland, Dublin City Council,
Principal Commercial Sponsor Start Mortgages, co sponsor Lifestyle