A football fan from Hastings is jetting off to South America to take part in the Homeless World Cup.
Cherrie Smith will join nine other people who have experienced homelessness for the annual tournament, which runs from Sunday (October 19) to October 26.
The event in Santiago, Chile’s capital, includes 64 teams from across the globe.
Cherrie was selected by the Homeless Football Association (FA) to play for Team England. The association is England’s national homeless football initiative, using the game to transform the lives of people experiencing homelessness. Homeless Team England is selected through the Homeless FA’s Training Centre programme, run in partnership with professional clubs, such as Arsenal and Fulham.
Players are selected with a particular focus on positive attitude, teamwork, commitment, and interpersonal skills.
Cherrie was homeless for three months before she found her current house in Hastings.
She said: “I’ve never been abroad before, it’s like a dream come true and I’ve been completely wrapped up in it.”
Gareth Parker, head of the Homeless FA, said: “It is incredibly unlikely that England will win the Homeless World Cup, but to be honest that doesn’t really matter, as winning or losing football matches is not how we’ll measure the success of our trip to Chile.
“So far, more than two thirds of the men and women who have completed the Homeless FA Team England programme go on to achieve more qualifications, well over half of our players improve their housing situation, and a third find a full-time job.
“Perhaps most importantly, every single one says that they feel more confident. So we know what we’re doing works.”