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Football tournament gets underway

The team from Ipswich take time out before the tournament to pose for a photo

Hundreds of people from The Salvation Army’s centres for homeless people will have the opportunity to learn skills from the most capped male England football player of all time today (Thursday, October 10) as part of a five-a-side football tournament in Birmingham.

They will be joined by Peter Shilton OBE, the most capped male England Player of all time, who will present the trophies to the winning team as well as running a penalty shootout master class, in the afternoon. He will also offer guidance and support to the teams taking part and give a brief overview of his career to anyone who is interested.

Commissioner Clive Adams with England legend Peter Shilton OBE

The former England player represented his country 125 times and during his playing career received an MBE and OBE for services to football. Following his retirement from international football he was awarded the prestigious Order of Merit by the Professional Footballers’ Association.

The Army’s Partnership Trophy is an annual event for homeless men and women living in Salvation Army Lifehouses and other supported housing units run by The Salvation Army Housing Association (SAHA) at the Power League Stadium.

Last year a team from Booth House in Whitechapel, London won the trophy. The winners then took to the field in a charity football match against 11 MPs and parliamentary staff in June. The match aimed to raise awareness of the issues of homelessness and to celebrate the achievements of the winning team.

Peter Shilton OBE with the final 2 teams Logos House, Bristol, and Booth House Lifehouse, London

This year around 40 teams will take part – with people from Lifehouses and other SAHA services - across the country competing in the tournament and as far afield as Scotland, Ireland and Southampton.

Mitch Menagh, The Salvation Army’s Territorial Director of Homelessness Services, said: “We put on the tournament each year because it gives the homeless men and women at our centres a great sense of achievement, purpose and self-confidence. It is also great because they can learn to work in a team and it creates a sense of community.

“As a Church and a charity we care about the whole person – and we believe that this sort of event can really help to build confidence and important life skills. It’s a really enjoyable day and a highlight for many.

““All of our Lifehouses offer a range of support to help break the cycle of homelessness. We do this by offering a compassionate, listening ear, education, training, volunteering, employment skills and much more.”

Phil Spalding, 55, is a successful bass player who has performed with Mick Jagger, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams, Elton John, Seal and many more. But he was a drug user and became addicted to a range of narcotics, such as heroine, cocaine, valium, cannabis as well as alcohol.

The teams enjoying lunch provided by Pret

It was a long journey. The realisation he needed to get out of his addiction came when he was standing in court for petty drug related crimes. His mother, a committed member of The Salvation Army, persuaded him to stay at The Salvation Army’s Gloucester House in 2005. Gloucester House in Highworth, near Swindon, is a care quality commission registered treatment centre which provides residential rehabilitation for people with substance misuse, drug, and alcohol misuse.

When Phil arrived he went on a 21-day detox and on October 21 will have been clean for eight years. Now Phil works as a hepatitis C adviser with an organisation called Swindon and Wiltshire Alcohol and Drug Service.

Anthony Tate, 28, was one of those who competed in last year’s Partnership Trophy. He also played in the football match against a group of MPs.

Anthony was staying on people’s sofas before he was given a place at Booth House in London.

He said: “It was hard just sleeping on people’s sofas. I wanted to get a flat of my own, and the staff at the Lifehouse helped me to do this. I am really grateful to them. I would recommend anyone staying in a Lifehouse to take part in the Partnership Trophy. I’m looking forward to taking part again this year.”

Penalty shootout masterclass with Peter Shilton

Peter Shilton OBE, said: "The Salvation Army's Lifehouses are incredibly inspiring places and as a former international footballer it's great to see the Army is using football to help develop people's confidence and life skills. I am very much looking forward to being part of the day and seeing how the homeless men and women are given a sense of purpose and integration with others through the tournament."

Pret-a-Manger is providing lunch for all the competitors free of charge.