National partner profile: Northern Ireland


Homeless men and women over 16 years old, people suffering from substance abuse, mental health issues, former prisoners, refugees, asylum seekers, and long term unemployed


Five projects in Belfast and one in Derry/Londonderry

Street Soccer NI

Northern Ireland Logo 2016

Street Soccer NI is a football project for disadvantaged groups such as homeless people, people suffering from substance abuse, refugees, asylum seekers, and those who are long-term unemployed. They provide free weekly football sessions and education, including coaching courses. Street Soccer NI's three main partners are Northern Ireland Housing Executive, East Belfast Mission, and the Irish Football Association.

The benefits of participation include better physical and mental health, increased confidence and self-esteem, motivation, structure, friendships, support with housing and employment, help to overcome addictions, and more.

The programme also helps participants gain coaching and referee qualifications; some of their participants have now successfully finished the IFA-accredited coaching qualification.

Street Soccer NI also runs an 11-a-side academy that trains every Friday morning at Shaftesbury Community Centre. The programme provides 2 hours of football coaching with a professional coach followed by a free lunch. An employment mentor attends every week to help support players who are looking to get into employment or training. A number of 11-a-side friendly matches are played every month, including trips away. Street Soccer NI provides training kit, boots, and tracksuits for players and helps with travel costs.

They've recently kicked off their first women's project. Two female coaches from the IFA run the sessions. So far, women from the sessions have participated in the Five Nations Cup in Belfast in September and the European Street Football Festival in Manchester in November, 2016.

Player profiles & Stories

Mission statement


Street Soccer NI is a programme that changes people’s lives for the better through football. The project helps build positive relations and shared cultural space in Belfast, and challenges sectarian and racist attitudes.

Street Soccer NI provides invaluable opportunities for people to get active, build confidence, gain qualifications, make friends, and have fun.

Goals for the future


To develop players’ coaching qualifications, referee qualifications, mental and physical health awareness, and employability skills; to complete a currently running ICT class and plan another one

Programme Development

To spread throughout the country, adding to the six existing programme locations

Women's Programmes

Having recently started a women's programme, Street Soccer NI is hoping to take their first women's team to the Homeless World Cup

Additional information

Partner since


Football Activities

Football training, coaching qualifications, referee qualification, Street League cups, and Homeless World Cup team selection

Team selection

They hold annual trials in Belfast and Derry in the spring to select 20 of the best homeless footballers. The number is then narrowed down to the final eight players during two days of football at Stormont Playball.

Non-football services

Mental and physical health awareness programmes, computer and other employability skills

Participants challenges

Substance abuse, broken family links, and health issues

Organisation challenges

Historical sectarian divisions between Protestants and Catholics continue to cause violence, discrimination, and marginalisation.

Country challenges

The Northern Ireland Assembly is currently discussing proposals to separate the housing management and other functions of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, and to transfer them to new bodies. This has raised many concerns about the delivery of services for homeless people.

As pressures on social housing grow due to the economic crisis and rising unemployment, concerns exist that bureaucratic changes may fail to provide successful protection of homeless people (Crisis.org, 2014).

Homlessness definition

A person is homeless if he has no accommodation available for his occupation; or if he has accommodation but cannot secure entry to it or if it is a moveable structure. A person shall not be treated as having accommodation unless it would be reasonable for him to continue to occupy it (Housing Act, 1996; National Strategy, 2002).

Homelessness Statistics

Northern Ireland is experiencing the highest rates of homelessness in the United Kingdom, with 5.7% of adults saying they have experienced homelessness. There were 13.4 statutory acceptances of homelessness applications per 1,000 households compared to 2.3 in England, and in 2012/13, more than 19,400 households were reported to be homeless (Belfast Telegraph, 2014).

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