After battling with homelessness and a broken heart, James used football to find his way again
James Earley’s marriage ended in 2015. He was left broken hearted and didn’t see a way out.
His previous experiences of substance abuse and homelessness left scars and James started to slip back into old habits.
“I was at the point where I wanted to end it all. I was heading back down a path of destruction, a path where I was living on the streets and in trouble with police.”
James has been a regular attendee of the Community Sports Foundation’s Street Life Soccer programme since 2009. The programme aims to engage with local refugees and vulnerably-housed individuals through football.
“It was the support of the SLS programme that got me through, the lads encouraged me to keep strong and supported me.”
One year on, James is feeling a lot fitter and happier. He has recently been offered an opportunity to represent England in the European Street Football Festival in Manchester later this month.
James will take part in a 2-day street football tournament competing against eight other European teams. The 5-day event will also include street football training, a series of workshops and a day at St George’s Park, the Football Association's national football centre.
This isn’t the first time James has been given an opportunity like this. In August, he was selected to represent England at St George's Park at a tournament organised by The Street Football Association.
“I played various fixtures there, stayed in luxury accommodation and met a lot of great people who I’m still in touch with. I experienced things I never thought I would before.”
“My confidence has been built up so much that at the tournament, I stood up and spoke about my life and the progress I’ve made in front of an audience of people. That proves just how far I’ve come.”
“My life is finally back on track and I can’t wait to meet and work with people from all over Europe and play for England once again.”
To find out more about the Street Life Soccer programme contact firstname.lastname@example.org.