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Playing football for England has changed my life
THEY may be back on home turf but the experience of the Homeless World Cup will last a lifetime for two footballers from Worcester.
Mark Wilks and Jayde Tew said they both had been given the confidence and motivation to carve out a career in sport after spending 10 days in Mexico for the tournament.
A year ago, Mr Wilks was sleeping in a car but now he has been given opportunities to work towards coaching badges and an offer to try out for a paid position with a football team.
He said: “Living in a car wasn’t the best experience and I would never have thought that a year later I would have been playing football for my country in Mexico.
“It is definitely all down to the YMCA. The support here is brilliant.”
Miss Tew, aged 19, said playing for the England women’s team, which finished ninth in the competition, had made her realise her dream to go to college to study sport.
She said: “That’s what I wanted to do originally before stuff happened and I ended up homeless and lost interest, but now I have got more confidence I am going to go for it.”
Mr Wilks said football was only 10 per cent of the experience and the pair hoped to return to Mexico after witnessing the lack of provision for the homeless in the country.
He said: “We saw a lady with children who were homeless.
“Seeing the children’s faces when we gave them food and water put things into perspective.
“People moan about not having much here, but over there they genuinely don’t have anything.”
The pair have also helped to inspire other YMCA residents. Activities co-ordinator Dave Knatt said: “We are immensely proud of both Mark and Jayde and it has been a great platform for them to push on and move forward.
“The Homeless World Cup happens each year and usually we get about 10 people applying, but I can imagine that will double or triple next year.”