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