National partner profile: Ireland

Organisation details

Irish Homeless Street Leagues
30 Gardiner Place
Dublin 1, Ireland
Contact: Sean Kavanagh


Socially excluded men between 16-40 years old


Cities all over Ireland including Cork, Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, Longford, Galway, Port Laoise, and Wexford

Irish Homeless Street Leagues


Irish Homeless Street Leagues use the power of sport to transform the lives of individuals from underprivileged, poorly educated, socially excluded, and conflicted communities. The participants are men between the ages of 16 and 40 years. IHSL operate more than 10 leagues countrywide, with two in Dublin alone. They also run programmes in Wheatfiled prison and Mountjoy jail in Dublin.

Team Ireland’s national ambassador is Paddy Barnes, two times Irish Olympic bronze medallist in boxing.

Once the participants are successfully engaged in football sessions, they are also offered life-skills training, and referred to education and employment services. The players are also given the opportunity to join coaching and refereeing courses recognised by the Football Association of Ireland.

As part of the Street League programme, IHSL bring together all their teams to participate in the All-Ireland Street Soccer Finals in Dublin. The event provides the players with a platform to display their skills, but also their personal progress and recovery, and it encourages the process of integration. A panel of players is selected at the tournament, from which the team to represent the Republic of Ireland at the Homeless World Cup is chosen.

IHSL are supported by Dublin City Council, Big Issue Ireland, and Football Association of Ireland.


The Street League: A Ball Can Change The World from Peter Clarke on Vimeo.

Player profiles & Stories

Mission statement


Irish Homeless Street Leagues use the power of sport to transform the lives of individuals who have encountered difficulties and fallen on hard times. Their programme is about rebuilding lives, and using sport as a catalyst for change. It is about boosting self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-discipline

They empower individuals to take responsibility for their own futures with confidence.

Goals for the future

Capacity Expansion

To increase the number of local leagues across Ireland


To provide more coaching training programmes


To provide those who have attended the Homeless World Cup with other goals to work towards, such as higher-level coaching qualifications

Additional information

Football Activities

Weekly football sessions, access to F.A.I. Coaching and Refereeing courses, an annual national tournament, and Homeless World Cup team selection

Team selection

A panel of players is selected at the all-Ireland annual tournament, from which the team to represent Ireland is chosen.

Non-football services

Personal development work, life skills training, and referral to education, employment, and housing services

Participants challenges

Participants deal with rough sleeping, asylum or refugee status, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, long-term unemployment, and learning disabilities. Some are ex-offenders or currently in prison. Most lead chaotic lifestyles with little access to sporting activities.

Country challenges

Since the 2008 economic crash, the percentage of people in consistent poverty has increased by 100%. Austerity measures have had a very negative impact, and almost 1.4 million Irish residents (30% of Ireland’s population) have been forced to endure enforced deprivation - a state of not being able to afford basic necessities such as adequate heating and two pairs of shoes (RT News, 2015; Combat Poverty Agency, 2015)

Homlessness definition

A person is homeless if: a) there is no accommodation available which he can reasonably occupy; b) he is living in a hospital, county home, night shelter or other such institution because he has no accommodation; or because he is unable to provide accommodation from his own resources (The Housing Act, 1988).

Homelessness Statistics

According to the 2011 Census, 3,744 people were in accommodation providing shelter for homeless people and 64 people were sleeping rough. Focus Ireland estimates that there are around 4,500 people homeless at any given time. More than 65,600 people are considered to be unable to reasonably meet the cost of accommodation (FEANTSA, 2012).

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