Former Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams was there to show his support at an annual football tournament organised by The Salvation Army’s centres for homeless people.
The Partnership Trophy is a yearly five-a-side competition organised and run by the Salvation Army for homeless men and women living in Salvation Army Lifehouses in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
The national tournament final was played between the Logos House Bristol and Booth House, London. Despite a valiant effort by the Londoners they were beaten by Bristol in a pulsating final.
The legendary Tony Adams, otherwise known as “Mr Arsenal”, handed out trophies medals and even took part in a master class session with trainees. Footballers from the Salvation Army’s homeless centres were also provided group, one to one advice and a Q&A about Adams’ illustrious career.
The Salvation Army provides an inclusive service to guests who may be living and battling with a range of issues. For many years the Arsenal legend fought alcoholism and the negative effect on his life was publicised throughout his career
He was ridiculed by the media and abused by rival fans. Adams, who won four league championship medals, 66 England caps as well as a host of FA Cup and other domestic and European trophies had a glittering career, which was fraught with controversy. After retirement he started the Sporting Chance Clinic to help footballers meet and beat their addictions.
Adams said: “We’ve had a great day – it’s been fantastic to see the boost this tournament has given to people – many of whom are facing their own struggles – to see their confidence grow and have a great day.
“Football’s a great way to help build people’s confidence and it’s been fantastic to see people develop their team work skills.
"The Logos House team did so well - it was brilliant to see some impressive skills at work!
“It’s also been fantastic to hear about some of the work The Salvation Army does with the homeless people they come into contact with – their dedication and compassionate support -and their work in helping people move on from alcoholism and addiction and get back on their feet.
“Having gone through my own journey from alcoholism – I’ve seen how important it is to have support and help to move on from it – it’s great to see The Salvation Army helps provide this for those that need it and in a way that values the contributions of the people they come into contact with.”
This year 30 teams took part in the Partnership Trophy – with people from Salvation Army Lifehouses across the country competing in the tournament and as far afield as Dublin, Plymouth, Dublin & Dundee.
Faisal Ahmad (support worker) and Matt Buchanan (assistant support worker) from Booth House, Whitechapel, London, took three teams to the Partnership Trophy. Although the C team went out in the group stages, the residents were pleased to see the B team reach the quarter finals and the A team, the finals.
Matt said: “We run a weekly football session at a local sports centre for our residents – it’s a great opportunity for them to take part in meaningful activity that promotes team work and develops valuable lifeskills, such as building strong relationships.
“The Partnership Trophy was a great day for our teams and we had a lot of fun. We could see our players growing in confidence as the day went on and we left the tournament with everyone in excitable spirits.
"One of our quieter residents was drawn from his shell and he took great delight in exchanging stories of the day – his goals and overall experience. Others felt they could identify with the issues some of the other players were facing and found the environment to be particularly supportive.
"We’re looking forward to coming back next year as a team to meet the other players and to represent Booth House Lifehouse."
Major Howard Russell, the Salvation Army’s Deputy Territorial Director of Homelessness Services, said: “It was great to see many of the homeless people who stay in our Lifehouses really enjoying themselves, gaining in confidence, and growing as a team today.
“They were so excited to meet Tony Adams – and it gave them a real boost to get tips from him and to know he had watched them playing football.
“To hear from him about his own journey through alcoholism was very encouraging for many of those who face their own struggles – it gave them a real boost! It was also great for them to get some tips from a former England captain to develop their football-playing skills.
“We really believe the tournament benefits the homeless people we come into contact with. From promoting a healthy lifestyle to developing key life skills – it’s a really important event.”