Surrey Docks Blacksmith - Positive News "Time Life" by Alex Walker Walker

I had the pleasure of shooting Positive News "Life Time" feature for their 87th Issue of this great quarterly magazine. 

After previously shooting with the RNLI as well as numerous other features for the magazine, this time we were focusing on Blacksmith Kevin Boys, and his workshop tucked away behind Canary Wharf in the Docklands.   It was brilliant to meet Kevin, who is a extremely talented individual, and at the absolute top of his craft.  His devotion to blacksmithing, as well as sharing his skill and passion in with others, specifically with his apprentice Steve Lock.     Kevin is one of the few remaining traditional blacksmiths in London.   

Shooting this was an absolute pleasure, not only was the workshop very atmospherically lit,  but the sparks and flames, as well as Kevin's enthusiastic personalty add to the character of the feature.  What's important for me with photojournalism, especially when i'm taking this images,  is  to transport the viewer to that scene,  make them hear the sounds and smell the smells, and stimulate other senses as opposed to purely just looking at a photograph. 

Read Kevin's story and see more images of his daily life in this quarters issue of Positive News magazine.  https://www.positive.news

YOU’VE GOT TO BE HERE by Alex Walker Walker

 The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

For Stephen Hawkins, a 46-year-old volunteer from Liverpool, this year’s Homeless World Cup was his sixth in a row. And having been bitten by the bug in Paris in 2011, his attendance here in Glasgow indicates how much he enjoys being part of the tournament.

“I’ve got a big passion for football and I’ve got a passion for helping those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. And when those two come together, it just makes everything so worth it,” he said.

“Even when you are tired or if there’s a day when its pouring down with rain, just to see the smile on people’s faces is better than any pay-packet that I could get, it’s just amazing.”
— Stephen Hawkins

As part of the sports team, Hawkins ensures that all the games run smoothly and that everything that happens in the tournament recorded and documented correctly, and has been witness to the extraordinary changes in the lives of those who have participated over the years.

“There have been so many people whose lives have been transformed by this tournament. It’s been a catalyst for change and I’ve seen the evidence of this over the years. I’m still in contact with people around the country who have played at the Homeless World Cup and they are living healthy lives with responsible jobs.

And he has some advice for those who may be thinking about volunteering at next year’s finals in Oslo.

“Go for it. As a volunteer at the Homeless World Cup you will see life, you will see joy on a level that was never experienced before, you’ll meet people from all over the world—people with smiles on their faces. You’ve just got to be here to experience with it. You can’t put it into words.”

 The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Words by Craig Williams - patrice44@hotmail.co.uk

CHILE HOPING TO GO THE TRIPLE by Alex Walker Walker

 Matias from Team Chile. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Chile’s performances at this year’s Homeless World Cup so far reflect their status as one of the pre-tournament favourites. Having won the trophy on two previous occasions—the last in 2014 in their native Santiago—the team is hoping to become the first side to win the cup on three occasions.

Chile captain Matias Vilches has impressed with some wonderful displays for his team throughout the tournament, and the 24-year-old from Nueva Imperial in the south of the country is convinced his team can go on to win the trophy.

“We have won nearly all our games so far, apart from the defeat to Hungary. But that is football. It’s about comebacks. We arrived here prepared to have a good tournament, and with the team playing as it is I’m confident we can achieve the objective we set of going back to Chile as champions.”

 Matias from Team Chile. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

With Chile part of a three-strong South American contingent alongside Argentina and Brazil, he feels that the differing styles of play to that of the European nations has made for some good, watchable football.

“It’s been complicated playing against teams from different countries. There are a lot of factors in play. The European teams are physically superior to the South American teams where as we are technically better. It’s a good clash that allows for a fine balance to be had during the games.”

Off the field, Vilches and his teammates are enjoying being part of a cosmopolitan tournament featuring players from countries around the globe.

 Matias from Team Chile. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

“It’s my first time in Europe and it’s a really nice experience. Obviously being away from Chile we are getting to know different ways of life and different cultures, and this is good for all of us. And we are continuing to learn a lot the more time we spend here.”

And with one eye on reaching Saturday’s final, Vilches realises the importance football has played in changing his and others’ lives through his country’s street football set up.

“All of us have had problems concerning drug use or homelessness, and street football has given each of us a chance to leave that behind us. Thanks to football, what was once one path has now became two paths that we can go down. With football, we are going down the right path.”

FOLLOWING IN HIS BROTHERS’ FOOTSTEPS by Alex Walker Walker

 The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Minea Chan, the young magician with the infectious smile and skill with the ball at his feet, has lit up this year’s Homeless World Cup with his performances for Cambodia.

Chan’s participation in the tournament is cause for celebration among the Chan family, as he follows in the footsteps of his two older brothers by taking part here in Glasgow.

“I’m very proud to be here representing my country, and I’m really happy with how we have performed in the tournament. My two older brothers both played at the Homeless World Cup for Cambodia, so for me I really wanted to take part in it too.”

 Cambodia Vs Sweden at the mens Globe Final at the Homeless World Cup. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Coach Vibol Chao helped explain a little about Chan’s journey to Glasgow.

“Minea is from a small village in Cambodia, and through a local NGO joined our organisation, Happy Cambodia Football. He has been playing with us since 2010 and was always present at the training sessions—eventually making the team for this year.”

And for a man of small stature, Chan certainly has some big dreams for the proximate and long-term future.

“When I get back home I want to tell others about my own experience and hopefully encourage them to play football. Football makes me happy and I want to continue playing. I’d like to return to Cambodia and become a professional footballer.”

Words by Craig Williams - patrice44@hotmail.co.uk

ARUNA NATARAJAN – A COACHING FORCE FOR CHANGE by Alex Walker Walker

 Aruna Natarajan, Indian Team Coach at the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Though she wasn’t physically carrying the flag at yesterday’s Homeless World Cup opening ceremony Team India Women’s coach, Aruna Natarajan, is very much flying the banner for women in her home country.

“I’m a big soccer fan – I’ve been keen on football for the longest time – and I’m very interested in communication, social sciences and transformation,” she says, “so this is a very interesting intersection of all my interests!”

Involved behind the scenes in the sport for four years, Aruna initially worked as a programme manager for Slum Soccer India, who promote development through the medium of football. Her focus there was on monitoring and evaluation before she immersed herself in the women’s programme, “Because getting girls involved in sport – especially a contact sport like football in India is very difficult, particularly amongst the low income communities who are very reluctant.”

From small beginnings Aruna helped develop extensive outreach programmes, getting women coaches involved so that parents were more forthcoming about letting their children take part in the sport.

“Once that happens, it’s a process,” she states. “We get more girls involved, it’s something they get excited about, and more girls are attracted to become involved.

 The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

“We’re building our programme to ensure girls are not excluded – not just in sport but in many other spheres of society. We try to have games with the boys and talk about exclusion. The first step in ensuring inclusion is to recognise that there is a problem. So we start by getting the girls and boys together.

“It’s very niche just now but slowly in India people are starting to recognise that change in this organic manner is good.”

Aruna, whose team are ranked fifth in this year’s tournament, is proud of the “huge spike of interest back home” in her players around this tournament.

 Aruna Natarajan, Indian Team Coach at the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

“People recognise the players now and approach them. Now the public attend matches because they know what this is all about – local matches attract about 700, a moving crowd – and Homeless World Cup is a huge part of that.”

As a leader in her field, then, has Aruna’s enthusiasm grown from her own playing experience?

“No, I’ve never played,” she laughs. “I have a kickabout occasionally but only when no-one is watching!”

Words by Isobel Irvine - izzyirvine1@outlook.com

A TALE OF TWO KEEPERS by Alex Walker Walker

 Wira Dana from Team Indonesia The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Despite not being in contention for the top trophy – they finished in 7th place after going out 6-2 to Mexico in the Cup quarter finals – Indonesia have nonetheless won hearts and minds at this week’s tournament in Glasgow.

While the rain may have been coming sideways across George Square, team manager Rijki Kurniawan was still smiling.

“Of course we’re enjoying our time here,” he assures, “even though it’s very cold. In our country there are only two seasons, summer and raining, but every time we have sun at least!”

The personification of calm, steely determination and respect, Kurniawan’s players have turned on the heroics on the pitch, none more so than the two goalkeepers, 27-year old Eman Sulaeman and the more experienced, at 44, Wira Danu Hendro Prasetyoko.

“I loved football when I was a kid,” says Danu, “and I always wanted to be a goalkeeper but when I got older I stopped playing in that position until now, because I prefered to use just my feet instead of all my body!”

Team Indonesia was organised by Rumah Cemera (Pine Home) community organisation for people living with HIV/Aids and suffering substance abuse and that’s a cause close to Wira’s heart.

 Players in the Homeless World Cup tournment, in Glasgow George Square.

“As someone living with HIV and a former drug user I have the motivation to decrease the stigma and discrimination in Indonesia, especially for me,” he says. “Rumah Cemera has a campaign, Indonesia Without Stigma, and I am really excited about it. I want to spread the message around the world and lessen the stigma of these things. That is why I’m here.”

Manager Kurniawan goes on to explain how regional organisations in the country were invited to send players, like Wira, to try out for the team, with selection based, “not just for their capacity regarding football skills. More than that they have to have the willingness to become a better person in the future.”

While his players are inspired by their journey to Glasgow, Kuriawan turns the conversation to keeper Sulaeman, who was born without feet, challenging perceptions in his own way due to his physical disability.

 Wira Dana from Team Indonesia The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

 

“He has already inspired me,” says Kuiawan. “He’s a really good person – not just a good player – he’s really confident. The first time I met him I didn’t believe he could play football but he’s great. I hope he can inspire people at the tournament and back home in Indonesia – showing that despite limitations like that you can still do anything.

“It’s good for him, for our team and for inspiring other players as well.”

There are over 100 million people who are homeless around the world. The Homeless World Cup is a unique global movement using football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives.

Words by Isobel Irvine - izzyirvine1@outlook.com

CHILE’S FAMILY VALUES by Alex Walker Walker

 Deborah Alberez from Team Chile after winning their match against England at the Homeless World Cup. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

For Chile captain Debora Gonzalez, her participation in the Homeless World Cup means a sense of pride for the Gonzalez family in the San Bernardo area of her native country.

Married with a family, her husband – who encouraged her to take up football – and two young children are tuning in on the other side of the globe keen to see her team’s performances here in Glasgow, hoping Debora will come back home a champion.

“My husband, my daughter and my son all play football. We are a football family. And I know they are watching back home. So I want to do well for them as well as my country. Chile is supporting us constantly alongside our families back home.”

Debora feels that in addition to her real family, she has found another with the rest of her teammates, something that has helped her cope with being so far away from home.

“We are like a family, it’s like the family we’ve always had. A second family for Chile. It’s a very nice experience and we are totally unified with the same goal,” she said.

“Our objective is to win the tournament but we are taking it a game at a time. We are second in the world rankings and with that comes a lot of pressure. Naturally, our objective is to go home as champions.”

And it shows that for her, being in Scotland is a very worthwhile experience.

“I’m tremendously happy to be here in Glasgow. Who would have thought that I would be here in Scotland representing Chile? The thought never crossed my mind and it’s something I never imagined. It’s the first time that I have travelled outside of Chile, so it’s a proud moment for me.”

She feels the experience is one that will help her to put difficulties in her life supporting her family to one side and allow her to have a fresh outlook on life on her return to her native country, regardless of whether she does so as World Champion.

“With Chile’s ‘football in the streets’ programme I started playing football regularly and got to know a lot of people. I was never a big talker and I never liked speaking. But now I have much more confidence,” she said.

“When I go back to Chile I think I’ll be a totally different person. Before I came here I had poor expectations of myself and my future but now my expectations are only positive. Things are going to be much better for my family and everyone else involved. I’m more communicative now and confident in guiding myself through life’s challenges.”

Words by Craig Williams - patrice44@hotmail.co.uk

SANG HAPPY TO MAKE THE CUT by Alex Walker Walker

 The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

For 16-year-old Sang Keo, throwing his body across the goal line in Glasgow’s George Square is the culmination of a dream that’s lasted almost half his life. After years spent watching his countrymen make the cut for Homeless World Cup squads he can’t quite believe he’s here and that his team will be in the Globe trophy finals, facing Sweden, on the last day of competition

The middle of three children, his father left the family a number of years ago and his mother sells food in the streets of Phnom Penh to support the family.

“We live by the river in a temporary shelter and we will soon have to move on as there are plans to develop the area,” he explains. “I was a good student when I was younger but then I had to drop out as we didn’t have enough money for me to stay at school.”

Having been given support through a local non-governmental organisation, the Riverkids Foundation, that led to training with Happy Football Cambodia, Homeless World Cup’s national partner in Cambodia. “I kept training hard and working towards my dream of attending the Homeless World Cup, so now that dream is true.”

This vision is coming to fruition but Sang has had to put another of his dreams on the back burner, for the time being.

As Sang explains, “Before I came to Homeless World Cup I planned to learn the skills to be a hairdresser. But if I had gone to train for this I would have to pay for the course and the training would take three to six months. Then how could I support my family?”

“I don’t want my younger brother to drop out of school, like I had to do,” he continues, “and my older sister who is at high school, her small job doesn’t bring in much money.”

 The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

With the onus on Sang to get a job to support his family, he went to work for an uncle who has a café.

“I’ll keep working in the café, to help my family,” he says, “and if that doesn’t bring in enough money I will move to another job.”

And football? “I’ll keep playing football when I have free time because it keeps me fit and healthy. In my village we have many players but they just play for fun. Here it’s been very exciting to meet people from around the world, who respect each other and respect our sport.”

There are over 100 million people who are homeless around the world. The Homeless World Cup is a unique global movement using football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives.

 The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Words by Isobel Irvine - izzyirvine1@outlook.com

SWISS GOALKEEPER’S LONG HAIRCUT WAIT by Alex Walker Walker

 Ruedi Kalin, the Swiss Team goalkeeper at the Homeless World Cup 2016. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Swiss goalkeeper Ruedi Kalin has not had a haircut for ten years—and is set to go another decade before getting the clippers out!

His flowing locks have seen the veteran become a firm favourite with the Homeless World Cup fans in Glasgow this week, his every save met with loud cheers from the supporters.

One of the oldest players in this year’s tournament, Kalin last enjoyed a trim back in August, 2006 and isn’t planning on ditching the shaggy look any time soon.

“My last haircut was on August 26, 2006,” he said. “I know a local barber back in my home town and she wants to cut my hair as her last job before she retires.

“We have agreed that will happen. But she is only 54 just now and in Switzerland you have to work until you are 64, so I have another 10 years to wait!”

Born in Zurich, Kalin grew up in the ski resort of Davos in the Alps, where he emerged as an accomplished ice hockey goal tender.

He had the chance to go to Montreal at 16 as part of a player exchange programme before tragedy struck with the death of his father.

“I couldn’t go as I had to think about my family and look after them; my two sisters and my mother. If things had been different I might have played ice hockey. That was my dream but my family came first.”

Things began to go wrong for him after some domestic unrest saw him return to Zurich in search of a job. That proved somewhat fruitless and he found himself living rough.

He said: “I had two sleeping bags. In the summer I slept on the lake in Zurich and in winter I went indoors as I knew a garden with a garden house and knew where the keys were kept and managed to sneak in there without the owners knowing.”

 The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Now based in Chur where he is successfully rebuilding his life, Kalin is widely recognised as a popular street seller, and has a second job as a city guide.

“I take people from one social institution to the next, and maybe that will be my focus in the years ahead,” he said.

Words© by Paul Kiddie  read the full feature at: 

https://www.homelessworldcup.org/news/swiss-goalkeepers-long-haircut-wait/

CHRISTINA’S LIVING HER TEEN DREAM by Alex Walker Walker

 Indian Player Christina Robert Francis at the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Laughing with her friends as they discuss the relative merits of the yellow and fuschia t-shirts displayed on the rail, Christina Robert Francis could be any teenager out in the city centre of a lunchtime.

However the t-shirts in question are publicising the 2016 Homeless World Cup, the city centre location is hub of the tournament in Glasgow’s George Square, and Christina and her posse feature on the squad sheet of Team India Women.

Preparing for their day two friendly with Wales, followed by a more gritty encounter with Argentina, Christina still can’t quite believe she’s living her dream

Happy to admit football has always taken precedence over the schoolbooks she says, “I don’t learn well, studying is difficult for me, my mind is not connected in that way but I enjoy football.”

After a suggestion from a neighbour, Christina first joined her parish team then graduated to a local foundation team as her skills were honed and now plays for a club – though her participation wasn’t plain sailing.

 Indian Player Christina Robert Francis at the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

She says, “At first my father didn’t let me go to play but my mum supported me to go. My mum was crying when I was chosen for this team and now my dad is also very proud that I am playing for India.

One of four sisters – “I’m the third one” – her eldest sibling is married, the second one is nursing and her youngest sister is still at school.

“I am the only one who plays sport and I play rugby too,” she says, going on to explain, “Where I live, all sports are played on one ground only. When I was playing football I saw people playing rugby and I decided to try it and enjoyed it.

“Many people were telling me I would fall down and be hurt playing rugby but I won’t get hurt because I know how to play properly!”

Football will always have the edge though, no question, she assures. And her country’s participation in this Homeless World Cup has not only broadened interest in the sport but has also made Christina and her team mates recognisable role models.”

 Indian Player Christina Robert Francis at the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

“My friends are slightly jealous but they’re proud of me because I am playing for our country,” she adds.

“This is my dream, to be able to play for India and to be a success at this has been my dream since I started playing football.

“The welcome in Glasgow at the opening ceremony was so good. As our team walked in and I saw the Indian flag flying I was so proud that my dream was really happening, everything I had hoped for was coming true.”
— Christina Robert Francis

Words by Isobel Irvine - izzyirvine1@outlook.com

REMEMBERING SREBRENICA by Alex Walker Walker

 Asmir Mehic from Team Bosnia at the Homeless World Cup.  The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

This week marks the 21st anniversary of the bloodiest episode in post-World War II European history. The Srebrenica Massacre, which began on 11 July 1995 and lasted for 11 days, saw the genocide of 8,373 Bosniak Muslim men and boys at the hands of Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska under the command of General Ratko Mladić. Between 25,000 and 30,000 women, children and elderly people were forcibly removed, abused and displaced by the end of this grotesque chapter in modern European history.

Asmir Mehić, 23, who is part of the Bosnia-Herzegovina squad, was only two years old at the time of the genocide. “I was just a baby so I can’t remember very clearly,” he says. “I left with my mother and we ran away to the free zone in Tuzla. My father stayed behind in Srebrenica to fight and was killed in the war. My mother has shown me and told me all about what happened.

“The war was religious and it was aggression against the Muslim population. We were only executed because we were Muslims. It is silly to fight over religion. Religion is supposed to spread peace amongst people, not war. The war was silly, but very deadly.”
— Asmir Mehić
 Asmir Mehic from Team Bosnia at the Homeless World Cup.  The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

 

It was extremely hard for Mehić’s mother to provide a family home in Tuzla because everything the family had had been left behind in Srebrenica. “We have been there for over 20 years, but we have never been able to afford our own house and make our own home there,” Mehić says. “We have lived in collective accommodation most of the time.”

A keen amateur footballer most of his life, and a big fan of Barcelona and Sarajevo, Mehić became involved with National Partner of the Homeless World Cup, IFS-Emmaus, when some people who were aware of his living situation asked the organisation to reach out to him.

They asked him to attend the training sessions with the organization, which offers invaluable support and guidance to young people from sensitive and vulnerable groups. His face lights up into a beaming smile when asked football means to him. “First of all, I love just playing football, it is a great sport,” he says.

“The most popular in the world and through football you can come together with other people, it brings different people together. Coming here to Glasgow I have had the chance to meet other people from other cultures like I’ve never had the chance to before. The Scottish people are really good hosts and its beautiful here,” he enthuses, although laughs as he adds: “The weather could be better!”

Looking to the future, Mehić says: “I want to find a job and have a stable situation. I want to build a home and start a family. In Bosnia, I coached young kids and I would love to do this as a job in the future as I love football so much.”

Words by Gregor Dow - gregordow@icloud.com  

MUM’S THE WORD FOR WILLIAMS by Alex Walker Walker

 Danielle Williams from Team USA at the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Day seven [16th July 2016] and USA’s women were getting in the zone for their 7th place play-off game against India. Come rain or shine – more often the former this week – 43-year-old Danielle Williams from San Francisco is loving every moment of her seven days in Scotland’s biggest city – and is even sporting a kilt.

“I’ll see if they’ll let me keep my kilt over my shorts for the anthems, it’d be pretty cool!” she grins.

Homeless and with a drug addiction, Danielle became involved with Street Soccer USA three years ago while in a women’s shelter. “They came to the shelter and asked if anyone wanted to play soccer,” she relates. “Training was after 7pm and our curfew at the shelter was 7pm so I was like, yeah this’ll get me out for another three hours so I started playing soccer – and I liked it!

“It did to me what drugs did for me, gave me a buzz. I had to make a choice – continue to use drugs or stop and play soccer. So I made that choice to stop using drugs.”

 Team USA at the Homeless World Cup. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Shortly after starting soccer training Danielle became pregnant with son Liam, now 18 months old. She’s missing him terribly but has pulled out the stops to make sure she takes him back a Scotland football jersey as a mark of her achievements in getting to Glasgow.

“Six weeks after he was born I was back on the pitch. I couldn’t wait to get back playing. He’s too little just now but I hope he’ll be proud of what I’ve achieved some day.”

While relishing the chance she’s had over the last year, Danielle is already looking to the future. “You’re only able to play two national [USA] Cups, which I’ve already played in, and compete once at the Homeless World Cup. At 43, I’ve been pretty lucky to do all that.

“I’d like to start up my own team when I get home and go to women’s shelters and women’s programmes and try to get more women into playing,” she adds.

“Being part of all this has given me a better outlook on life and people in general. All the teams I’ve met and everyone I’ve met have been so friendly, it just gives you a better perspective on the world.”
— Danielle Williams

Words by Isobel Irvine - izzyirvine1@outlook.com

"CZECH OUT BIRTHDAY BOY JAN" by Alex Walker Walker

 jan Malek of Czech Republic at the Homeless World Cup. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Today ( 15th July 2016) sees Jan Málek celebrate his 30th birthday here at the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow and, for the Czech Republic player, he can’t think of a better place to be for the milestone, especially as his fellow players prepare to throw him a surprise party.

“I’m really enjoying the tournament, Glasgow is a great city and all the people are really friendly. Everything the city has prepared for all the teams is absolutely perfect. I’m having a lot of fun playing and meeting people from all over the world – it’s a really nice experience,” he said.

And with his relatives back home cheering on the performances of him and his teammates, having the chance to play for his home nation fills Jan with pride.

“I’m really proud to represent the Czech Republic. We have a really nice strip and I give it all my heart when I put it on. My girlfriend is watching every match and my family are constantly sending me good luck messages.”

The tournament represents a culmination of sorts for Jan, as he put his personal difficulties behind him in search of a better life back home in Prague.

“For a lot of years I was in a drug user and spent time in prison. Now I’m involved in community therapy which has made my life much better. I’ve been clean for a very long time now and it’s like the start of a new life for me,” he said.

“I’ve noticed a change within myself since I’ve arrived here, because I’ve seen and met a lot of people who have shared similar problems to me and that has provided me with the energy and motivation to change my life.”

And for Jan, football has provided him with the necessary tools to turn his life round for the better.

Football for me is sport and an opportunity for me to improve both my fitness and myself as a person and it’s an opportunity for me to relax and forget about other things.
— Jan Málek

Words by Craig Williams - patrice44@hotmail.co.uk

LOST FOR WORDS by Alex Walker Walker

 Angel O'Dwyer from Team England. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

The moment Angel O’Dwyer was asked to join the England team for the Homeless World Cup will forever be etched in her memory.

“When I got the call to come to the Homeless World Cup I was lost for words, and it’s not easy for me, I could literally talk for England,” she said.

The 17-year-old from Croydon near London believes that her trajectory from joining with England’s street football set-up to playing in the tournament has seen her mature in many ways.

“When I first started the Street Football Association Training Programme, I was a self-centred rebellious little girl and I can seriously say, going home tomorrow, I am a young woman now who puts everyone before herself and abides by the rules.”

And while the tournament has went on, the post-match review of the team’s performances has worked as both a critique and a reminder of how they have been getting on day by day.

“Every night after our matches we have watched our games. If we did something wrong, we drag it up and see how could have improved it. And if it was something good, we drag it back up so we can all re-live that moment of excitement again.”

For Angela, football has helped her deal with the problems she has encountered in her life and has given her the motivation to succeed in the future.

“Growing up it was quite tough for me and my family, and quite a few tragic things happened to me. Football was my way out. Football has always been my way out. Football has saved me and made me the person who I am today.”

As the tournament draws to a close, the end of her time as part of the England set-up alongside her teammates is something she isn’t particularly looking forward to.

 

“I’ve loved every minute of it, I don’t ever want to go home.”

Words by Craig Williams - patrice44@hotmail.co.uk

Back To Black! by Alex Walker Walker

 Bella Black from Team USA. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Isabella ‘Bella’ Black is attending the Homeless World Cup this week as a goalkeeper for the USA women’s team. I spoke to her following a narrow 6–5 defeat to the Welsh team. Unfortunately a knee injury has curtailed Black’s involvement, but she gives greats support to her teammates as we watch the game unfold.

Bella, 23, hails from San Francisco, California and is visiting Scotland for the first time. “I’ve worked my butt off in training for two years to get here. My coach put me forward for the national trials for the American team last year in order to make this years Homeless Word Cup squad. They announced the nominees last year following a national tournament in Philadelphia and I made it.”

The organisation in question in Street Soccer USA, a Homeless World Cup national partner, and Bella is clearly a fan: “Tiffany and Lisa my coaches are the greatest coaches I’ve met in a long time, and I love them for it. They are family. Football has allowed me to grow connections with people I never have been able to before.”

Bella, who tells me she is an open book and happy to talk me about anything, goes on to tell me that she had major problems with her own family. “Growing up with a family of nine, it’s kind of hard to get attention to yourself. With them hating me for who I am, they decided to kick me out so I moved to San Francisco by myself.

“I identify myself as Intersex. It just means I was born differently. My family didn’t like the fact that I liked ladies and that I wanted to marry a girl and not a guy. That was kind of shocking to them. I was so different from everyone else, they couldn’t live with it.”

 Bella Black from Team USA. The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

A period of homelessness followed for Bella—couch surfing, staying in homeless shelters. Happily that’s not where her story ends.

“I met a girl who I really liked. She became the most important person in my world. We got married nine months ago in San Francisco and she became my best friend. She has helped me break a lot of my barriers. I have my own place now and although it costs a lot, we want to have our own place together in the future.”

In terms of Glasgow, she tells me she has made lots of friends. She has a particular affinity for players in Welsh team.

“I could never have imagined making friends with people from Wales. Being here is so crazy, but so much fun. Glasgow is a perfect city. It’s really exciting to be here.”

As for the future, Bella tells me that she and her partner want to move to Los Angeles and have an apartment together.“She wants to become a school teacher and I want to join the FBI. I want to help make the world a better place.”

Many thanks to Gregor Dow for allowing me to post his written feature.  Words by - gregordow@icloud.com  

Homeless World Cup 2016 - Glasgow by Alex Walker Walker

Its that time of year again (a bit earlier than usual) for the Homeless World Cup.  The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives.  Taking to a different city around the world each year, this time visiting its roots, in Glasgow's George Square. 

This is my third time photographing this wonderful event,  and although the typical Scottish wind and rain did dampen the mood on a few of the days,  the spirit of the tournament prevailed.  This year, I wanted to have slightly more focus with my work,  concentrating on creating a great portrait series, which in collaboration with the very talented writers I was fortunate enough to work with,  create a strong feature telling the players sometimes difficult stories, and their battle overcoming hurdles in life to get to this point.    

I'll share with you over the next few days, a few of the remarkable individuals I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing and how they've overcome their personal challenges in life to get where they are today.

 Team Cambodia celebrate winning the Mens Globe trophy final at the Homeless World Cup, The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

The Intro to my 2014 Homeless World Cup Feature is still just as relevant today ;

The Homeless world cup, a concept that was imagined in 2001 by two men who came up with the idea at a conference on homelessness in Cape Town. They both believed that it was possible to “change the lives of homeless people through football”. Now in its twelfth year, it has over 52 countries competing and is an annual event.  Hosted by nations around globe, it has become a life changer for many of those who today live on the margins of society. 

The participants, who have all been homeless, not only have their footballing skills to prove in this whirlwind tournament, but also need to prove a commitment to others, but more importantly themselves. For the participants, the event is a light, a beacon at the end of a sometimes very long and dark tunnel.     

The extraordinary atmosphere brings not only patriotic commitment and camaraderie to the sport, but also a belief in humanity where players and supporters, people from all over the world regardless of cultural backgrounds, race, belief and religion, all converge on one chosen city, participating under one flag for the title of the Homeless World Cup.   

Those marginalised by society, find new hope to rebuild broken lives and reconstruct family ties. However the impact reaches far beyond those helped by this global initiative.  The players who have competed become role models to others, shattering stereotypes of homelessness and changing people’s perceptions knowing that other people will follow in their footsteps.  Proving to the many who are just beginning their journey that there is hope. 

 Team Portugal at the Homeless World Cup.  The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

Teddington RNLI - Positive News Feature by Alex Walker Walker

A couple of months ago, I was invited by the crew at Teddington RNLI on one of their training exercises as part of a feature on the RNLI for Positive News magazine.

It was fantastic to get an idea of what its like to be crew for this great organisation,  but also tell their story and raise awareness for the Lifeboat stations in London.     All to often people presume the RNLI exclusively operate on costal waters,  busy shipping lanes,  or lifeguards at beaches,  but what many people don't know is that the charities London stations are actually the busiest of them all.  

Tower RNLI launched 491 times last year with Chiswick 299,  and while Teddington's figure is slightly less,  their job is no less important on the River Thames in London.

Below are a selection of the images from the feature which are now in this quarters edition of Positive News! Go grab a copy...its worth the read! 

Sierra Leone - Sport Relief 2016 by Alex Walker Walker

Earlier in the year I was sent to Freetown, Sierra Leone by Comic Relief along with Eastenders actor Danny Dyer and a small BBC film crew to document some of the projects which Comic Relief Supports in the region.   We worked with the local organisations, and met a few of the families and individuals who would be benefiting from the charities work.    

Below is a small selection of images taken during a visit to a children's hospital in central Freetown. 

Sierra Leone - Sport Relief 2016 by Alex Walker Walker

Earlier in the year I was sent to Freetown, Sierra Leone by Comic Relief along with Eastenders actor Danny Dyer and a small BBC film crew to document some of the projects which Comic Relief Supports in the region.   We worked with the local organisations, and met a few of the families and individuals who would be benefiting from the charities work.     These people live in unimaginable conditions day in day out.

Below is one of the many families who live and work on one of the rubbish dumps in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  They will sift through the rubbish looking for plastics or other valuable items to sell or recycle.