Salvation Army footballers take to Stadium of Light pitch
Keen footballers from Salvation Army Lifehouses got the chance to grace the hallowed turf of the Stadium of Light as they took part in a special match.
Many of the players have experienced homelessness and are currently living in Lifehouses, which is supported accommodation, in Bradford, Hull, Grimsby, Sheffield and Sunderland.
Footballers from Sunderland’s Swan Lodge Lifehouse played a full match against a combined team from the Bradford, Hull, Grimsby and Sheffield Lifehouses.
Tony Thornton, The Salvation Army’s North East Homelessness Services Regional Manager, said: “We passionately believe in people and in the positive and life-affirming benefits of meaningful activities that fully engage individuals. For many of our players, football has been an activity that has helped them make new friends, take care of their physical and mental fitness and encouraged them to be involved in their Lifehouse community.
“Football can be a force for uniting people on and off the pitch.
“It creates friendships through teamwork, builds self-esteem and confidence and improves people’s health and wellbeing.
“We know that you can’t tackle homelessness and its root causes and help people to break the cycle of homelessness by just providing them with a bed.
“This is why our professional dedicated staff support residents to rebuild their confidence and regain their life skills by encouraging them to take part in meaningful activities, whether that’s through studying, learning new skills or taking part in regular exercise.”
The home side from Sunderland Swan Lodge and Salvation Army churches in the city, as well as Southwick Community Project, won 9-5 against the visiting team.
The match will have provided a warm-up ahead of The Salvation Army’s own national Partnership Trophy event in September 2018, when around 30 teams from across the UK will compete for a coveted trophy.
Sunderland Swan Lodge Lifehouse Service Manager Christine Ritchie said: “Every day we deliver professional, tailored support to our residents and share the hope for those we work with to reach their God-given potential. “Every individual we meet is of infinite value and worth and deserves the chance to fulfil that potential.
“We’re grateful to Sunderland AFC for their ongoing partnership and for providing this opportunity today for us to come together and enjoy a day of football in one of the biggest stadiums in the country.”
Sunderland AFC regularly supports The Salvation Army’s work in the city.
Recently Sunderland AFC players Ethan Robson and Billy Jones joined former club captain Kevin Ball to meet residents at Swan Lodge and to support their training session at Goals Sunderland.
Louise Wanless, of Sunderland AFC, said: “We have developed a close affinity and friendship with our local Salvation Army branch, which is located very close to the Stadium of Light, and this project is the latest in a number of initiatives that we have worked in partnership with them on.”