Life's a pitch in the Homeless World Cup

February 20, 2010

They have the badge. They have the football strip. They even have the WAGs. Louis Garvey, a coach at Manchester United, reckons that the only differences between the top-flight pros that play for England and his international squad are “fitness levels and the cost of the haircuts”. Well, that and the fact that they are homeless.

Garvey, the head coach of the Old Trafford club’s Football in the Community programme, has been training England’s Homeless World Cup team since its creation for the inaugural tournament in 2003. Today, he prowls the indoor turf of The Cliff, the United training ground in Salford, barking instructions to the men on the pitch. After six months of selection, this is the final team trial; 14 players are present, but only eight will make it to Melbourne for the competition in December. Each team consists of four players on the pitch and four substitutes, and can be all-male, … [more]

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The No 1 Muslim Ladies' Cycling Club

February 20, 2010

Pull your brakes. Put your foot under. No, under. Set the pedal. Now release the brakes…” Most people remember learning to ride a bike. It is easier when you are 5 and not wearing a full hijab. It is also easier when small boys are not whizzing past on mini-BMXs laughing at you as their parents, on the way to Saturday morning shopping, stare and mutter under their breath.

The participants in Britain’s only known Muslim women’s cycling club are having their weekly lesson in a small park close to the East London mosque. “Most have never ridden,” says Erika Severina, their cycling instructor. “Some make excuses, such as saying their clothes aren’t suitable, but we’ve found bikes to accommodate that. Others don’t want to ride outside. But now we’ve got them in parks and on back roads.”

Learning to ride turns out to be one of the lesser hurdles the group faces. Women from other backgrounds and faiths h… [more]

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