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 - firstname.lastname@example.org