Former England Captain “Mr Arsenal” To Present Football Tournament Trophies

published on 3 Oct 2014

Hundreds of people from The Salvation Army’s centres for homeless people will compete to carry home the cup next week (Thursday, October 9) for its annual five-a-side football tournament in Birmingham.

They will be joined by the legendary Tony Adams MBE, nick-named “Mr Arsenal” by fans, who will present the trophies to the winning team as well as running a football master class, in the afternoon. The former England captain will offer guidance and support to the teams from The Salvation Army’s homeless centres taking part and give a brief overview of his career to anyone who is interested.   

The former centre defender captained Arsenal to four league titles during a two-decade spell in north London and earned 66 England caps. Arsenal Football Club unveiled a statue honouring Adams outside the Emirates stadium in 2011 alongside statues of footballers Thierry Henry and Herbert Chapman.

People living in our Lifehouses often are facing a range of personal struggles which we support them to overcome. One of those struggles can be alcoholism. Adams also understands that particular situation. Adams admitted he was an alcoholic in the 1990s and his admission proved to be a turning point in his life. He has since founded the Sporting Chance Clinic to help sports men and women with addictions.    Tony Adams MBE, said: “Football is a great way to help build people’s confidence, as well as teaching people about team work and resilience. It’s fantastic that The Salvation Army sees how sport can help people develop and grow. Many of the residents of The Salvation Army’s Lifehouses have gone through difficult times in their lives and it is great that they help people get back on their feet.  

“I’ve had to go through my own journey and have faced struggles with alcoholism myself. It is great to see that The Salvation Army is here for people who are in need or vulnerable - offering compassionate support and encouragement through sport. I’m really looking forward to spending time with the Lifehouse residents at the tournament – may the best team win!”   

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 in Aston, Birmingham.  

Last year a team from Logos House in Bristol won the trophy. It is hoped that this year’s winners will take to the field again later this year in a charity football game against 11 MPs and parliamentary staff.    And former resident of Salvation Army Lifehouse – King’s Ripton Court in Huntingdon – Josh Brinkman – who played in last year’s Partnership Trophy, has now been selected to play on the England team of the Homeless World Cup.   

This year up to 40 teams will take part in the Partnership Trophy – with people from Lifehouses across the country competing in the tournament and as far afield as Dundee, Dublin, Cardiff and Plymouth.  

Major Howard Russell, The Salvation Army’s Deputy Territorial Director of Homelessness Services, said: “We host the Partnership Trophy every year because we really believe that it helps build confidence and gives those staying in our Lifehouses a sense of purpose. We’ve found that the football tournament gives our residents something to work towards and forms part of our promotion of living a healthy lifestyle by encouraging our residents to take part in football as well as developing important life skills. It will be a great opportunity and a boost for many of them to meet Tony Adams – particularly knowing that he has fought with alcoholism – which is something some of our residents have or are also struggling with.  

“To hear from someone who has faced his own struggles and who has come out the other side will be a great encouragement. The Partnership Trophy is a chance for those living in our Lifehouses to work towards something as a team.”   

Commissioner Clive Adams with England legend Peter Shilton OBE (In 2013)   Last year, Peter Shilton – England’s most capped player, attended the tournament and the former goalie held a penalty shoot-out master class for those who attended.  

Matthew Gregory, 41, competed in the Partnership Trophy last year. He first came to The Salvation Army’s Booth House Lifehouse in London in 2012 when he was on the streets and addicted to heroin. He has now moved out of the Lifehouse and into a housing association flat and has been clean for two and a half years.

He said: “The Salvation Army at Booth House is fantastic. They helped me to stay clean. There is so much to get involved with at Booth House that you’re never just hanging around or bored. I played in goal on the Booth House football team and we played matches at least once a week. We had a good team – we won the Partnership Trophy in 2012 and beat the Parliamentary football team that June. “It was great to talk to people from all parts of the country, and no matter where we came from we were all in the same boat.”  

While staying at Booth House Matthew was able to take a five-week training course at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium as he got to the final 10 out of 150 people trialling for the England team for the Homeless World Cup.  

Matthew said: “At the end of the five weeks I was awarded a certificate for Level 1 football coaching. That’s what I want to do now – teach young people how to play football, how to treat officials, and to set an example. Although I didn’t get to play for England it was still a very worthwhile experience to help me communicate with children, it gave me the confidence to do that. I couldn’t have done any of that without The Salvation Army staff. They have been so friendly and supportive.”   

Pret-a-Manger will provide lunch for all the competitors free of charge.