Cape Times

World stage for homeless soccer aces

- Raphael Wolf

EIGHT homeless street soccer players left Cape Town yesterday to represent South Africa at the Annual Homeless Street Soccer World Cup in Amsterdam, Holland, from tomorrow until September 20.

The team consists of players from the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.

Dillon Fletcher, 23, said he had no relationsh­ip with his father and was raised by his grandparen­ts in Lansdowne, after his mother deserted him as a baby.

He began playing soccer when he was seven years old, and dropped out of school in Grade 9 due to drugs.

When he was 16, he was sent to live with his uncle in Johannesbu­rg, where he was arrested for narcotics and possession of a gun, and the second time for a crime for which he served three months.

“When I came out I was living on the street, stealing and breaking into houses to make a living,” he said, adding that he came back to Cape Town after some people threatened to kill him.

Referred to Oasis for rehabilita­tion, he became involved with the street soccer programme, he said.

Oasis is funded by the province’s Social Developmen­t Department and is responsibl­e for the SA Homeless Street People Soccer programme.

MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport Anroux Marais, Social Developmen­t MEC Albert Fritz as well as relatives and supporters wished players well at the airport.

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