Street Soccer NI is a charity set up for the disadvantaged groups of society such as the homeless, people with addictions, mental health issues, ex prisoners, refugees, asylum seekers and long term unemployed. We aim to bring positive change to people’s lives using football. We run 10 weekly sessions in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry including women’s football and learning disability football. Over 100 people go through our sessions every week which last between 1-2 hours. Alongside the football we offer support with housing, employment, education, addictions, mental health issues and more.
Street Soccer was birthed in 2009 when Co- Founders Justin McMinn and Aidan Byrne were working in a homeless hostel in East Belfast. When working in the hostel and playing football regularly with the residents they had a dream of setting up a weekly project were other hostels and organisations could join in free of charge. They also heard about the Homeless World Cup that takes place every year and that Northern Ireland was unrepresented, that was something they wanted to change. A short while after with support from Belfast Community Sports Development Network and Irish Football Association they started their first pilot project in Feb 2010 at Shaftesbury Community Centre. After a successful 2 months pilot they continued the project the rest of they year. The year after in partnership with the IFA they started another project in Derry running from Magee Campus. Today we have grown to have 10 weekly sessions in Belfast and Derry including a women's project and learning disability project.
In 2013 Street Soccer developed the first men's homeless Northern Ireland team and attended the Homeless World Cup in Poznan, Poland. Since then we have been to seven Homeless World Cups including Chile, Mexico, Norway and Holland. In 2017 Street Soccer developed their first women's team and brought them to the Homeless World Cup in Oslo along with the men's team.
We have been running as a charity since 2013 and are mainly supported by the Housing Executive, Department for Communities, Belfast City Council, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Irish Football Association and East Belfast Mission.
Street Soccer NI's charity board currently has 6 members
Chairman - Gareth Harper - Managing Director at Peace Players NI
Treasurer - Annie Corso - Finance Officer at East Belfast Mission
Secretary - William Steele - Settlements Manager at Power NI
Trustee - Aidan Byrne - Homelessness Manager at East Belfast Mission
Trustee - Elaine Roden - Voice's Coordinator - Women's Aid
Trustee - Stephen McIlveen - Sport Northern Ireland