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