Homeless World Cup 2014



World Cup Tournament proves life-changing for Darren

Darren Dougherty is one of eight formerly homeless Scottish men who have recently returned from Chile where they represented their country in an international football tournament.  


 The 23-year old, who became homeless at the age of 19, was the goalie for Team Scotland – who finished 21 out of 48 nations competing in the 2014 Homeless World Cup.



The event, which took place in Santiago, annually brings homeless and socially disadvantaged men and women from across the world together to represent their countries and make a positive change to their lives.

Darren Dougherty from Dreghorn, stepped up to the plate after an invitation from none-other than ex Rangers and Scotland star, Ally Dawson - now StreetSoccer’s Glasgow co-ordinator.


Ally approached FITba4U – a multi-agency project which works directly with vulnerable adults and is funded by the North Ayrshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership – and asked them to organise Pan-Ayrshire trials for the Homeless World Cup in Chile.


Following the Ayrshire trials at Kilmarnock’s Powerleague, Darren and five others were selected to take part in a National Tournament in Glasgow as part of the Commonwealth Games celebrations. The tournament was viewed by hundreds and saw Darren progress to the final 16. Following six weeks of training, the final Team Scotland squad was formed, with Darren being selected as the team’s goalkeeper for the Chile World Cup.


A far cry from his past, the experience has given Darren a ‘second chance at life’, he said: "I was an alcoholic for three years, I was a mess and I ended up homeless.”


His wake up call came when his partner at the time fell pregnant with his first child: "Having kids made me stop drinking. I now have two kids, Bethany, who is three, and Harry, who’s ten months old.”


The dad of two explains how FITba4U helped get his life back on track: "The project has given me the structure and support I needed. FITba4U gave me something to look forward to, I mean, I got to go and represent my country in an international football tournament and meet some football legends, that is an opportunity I would never have had if it wasn’t for the guys at FITba4U.”


Talking about his time in Chile, Darren said: "I missed my kids loads when I was there, but being with the team was amazing and something I will always remember.”


Darren viewed the experience as a life changing opportunity and has returned motivated to push on with other areas of his life: "I am now doing an employability course at college as part of the FITba4U project, and I am looking into getting my coaching badges with the aim of becoming a football coach.


"I am looking forward to a future with my girlfriend and my kids, and that’s something I never thought I would say.”


Darren was assisted by the North Ayrshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership who covered the costs of his passport, kit, gloves and travel to and from training in Glasgow.


Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, Councillor Anthea Dickson said: "What a fantastic turnaround for this young man and what an incredible story he has to tell. He should be immensely proud of himself, and all that he has achieved.


"The FITba4U project is a remarkable initiative helping people get their lives back together, and Darren is a great example of how successful the project is, in doing just that.


"I would like to thank Darren for representing North Ayrshire so well and I wish him and his family all the best for their future.”


FITba4U is a project run by a number of public agencies who supply staff to attend and facilitate a weekly three-hour session which combines a working discussion on social issues with football or gym-related activities.


These participation activities enable individuals to gain access on a range of knowledge and expertise as well as engage with others in sport. The ultimate aim is to help people into work.


For more information on the Fitba4U project, see link below-





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