England stars join Salvation Army to cheer on footy teams

published on 29 Sep 2023

England defender and Manchester City star John Stones and former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton OBE cheered on players at The Salvation Army’s annual five-a-side football tournament for people who are homeless. 

The twelfth Partnership Trophy, held at Goals in Manchester on Thursday (28 September), brought together 28 teams from Salvation Army homelessness services across the UK with players from Lifehouses (supported accommodation), outreach programmes and Salvation Army Housing Association (SAHA) services.  

The trophy, presented by Peter Shilton, was lifted by the team from The Salvation Army’s Ty Gobaith Lifehouse in Cardiff. 

Peter Shilton with the winning football team Ty Gobaith Lifehouse
Peter Shilton with the winning team from The Salvation Army's Ty Gobaith Lifehouse in Cardiff

Mr Shilton, who enjoyed a 30-year career as a footballer and is the England team’s most capped player, spent time cheering on the teams and gave a moving speech about his own history tackling a gambling addiction. He said: “I’ve really enjoyed taking part in The Partnership Trophy, it’s a great event and the people were very friendly and responsive, it’s competitive with the right sort of spirit.

“I also shared with the players my own battles with addiction. My message is with the right help you can beat addiction, but you need to ask for help. Playing as much sport as you can and positive thinking is also key, I think you could that with the players today.

“Thank you to The Salvation Army, it is one of those organisations that has been there forever and we need them.” 

John Stones posing in a selfie taken by a young fan to the left of him
Manchester City and England footballer John Stones cheered on players and showed support to The Salvation Army

The tournament was also supported by the Guardiola Sala Foundation (GSF), a humanitarian charity set up by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and his family, who attended the event in 2019. They generously provided custom-designed t-shirts for all players, as well as caps and footballs, covered costs for those travelling long distances and made it possible for each player to have a reusable water bottle. 

Pep said: “Football, fun and solidarity. This is an extraordinary tournament. The Salvation Army are doing an amazing job - they are heroes.  

“Congratulations to all the teams that took part. I wish everyone all the best for the future.”  

The Partnership Trophy, which is run by the church and charity and its subsidiary, housing association SAHA, celebrates the achievements of players on and off the pitch and how far they have come as they move on from homelessness as well as highlighting the importance of sport for improving physical and mental health.  

Peter Shilton standing next to the Partnership Trophy banner and pointing to the Salvation Army red shield.
Peter Shilton standing next to the Partnership Trophy banner

Malcolm Page, assistant director of the Homelessness Services Department for The Salvation Army, said: “Today has been a triumph, we loved seeing our residents play some fantastic football and most importantly enjoy themselves. It’s always a fantastic event that brings everybody together.  

“The Partnership Trophy is a great opportunity to celebrate everyone within our homelessness services, as they continue to overcome the challenges and complex reasons that led to them becoming homeless.  

“We want to say a big thank you to John Stones and Peter Shilton, as well as the Guardiola Sala Foundation, who have supported us at this year’s event and GOALS for making it all a reality. It means a lot to our service users to see their sporting heroes give up their time to come and cheer them on and inspire them. It makes such a difference.” 

The Partnership Trophy is one of the many ways The Salvation Army promotes positive and independent living for its service users and reinforces the message that helping people to move on from homelessness is more than just providing a roof over someone’s head.

Salvation Army Officer delivering a parcel to a family's doorstep

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