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“You’ll remember the relationships you build, for life” | Team England – Tyra Mills

Former Team England player Tyra Mills urges Street Soccer London players to grasp every opportunity when it comes to representing the Three Lions.

Team England’s first competition with Street Soccer as its official partner will be next month’s Four Nations Tournament, taking place in Edinburgh on September 18th and 19th.

A player at the 2018 Homeless World Cup and a coach the following year, Tyra highlights her fond memories with Team England’s women’s team.

“Before first playing for Team England, I didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea the Homeless World Cup was such a big event, but I am sort of glad in a way that I was unprepared for that because it allowed me to push myself out there and speak to new people and learn new things. That’s the full experience that I wanted.”

Tyra (second from left) and her England team mates in Mexico City (2018)

Tyra first heard about the event from a friend Sarah, who played for England in the 2017 Homeless World Cup in Oslo and knew there was something special about the tournament after quizzing her on her arrival back in the UK. Street Soccer’s Jack Badu was influential in Tyra’s selection, after visiting her community college to deliver a session at Arsenal’s Market Road football pitch in early 2017.

“Jack delivered a session for us and explained to the girls about the whole Team England project, it was there and then I decided I wanted to apply. After the application, I was training with the girls at Black Prince Trust Hub every Tuesday and I was picked for the squad for the Mexico tournament in 2018. It was an amazing experience. I am still so close to all the girls who went and it was just a brand new thing for us all, meeting new people from all these different teams. Despite the language barriers, it was just amazing.”

The cultural difference between players is something that players often mention when returning from the international event, however Tyra mentions that this is all part of the learning experience.

“The experience of playing with Team England has helped me come out my comfort zone. It was a real eye opener, learning about new cultures around the world. That’s something I hadn’t really thought about before. The language barriers couldn’t stop us!”

Tyra and Shakeelah with Street Soccer’s Jack Badu and Craig McManus

After a successful tournament in Mexico City with Team England, Tyra and her close friend ShakeelaH were identified as ideal candidates to lead the women’s side in Cardiff for the Homeless World Cup in 2019. Tyra believes the support of Street Soccer staff Jack and Craig McManus was key to her personal development in these events.

“Jack managed the Homeless World Cup’s women’s team and his support was outstanding. He helped a lot of us girls to ensure we gave 100%. Craig was always on hand to help us too and hearing his own journey and experience of the tournament really touched a lot of the girls and opened our eyes to see what the tournament can do for people. I feel like the Street Soccer guys give you a lot of preparation and support for events like these. Both mentally and physically. They’re a great support system.”

With Edinburgh just around the corner, Tyra has no doubts that players starting their Team England journey will have a special experience.

“To anyone playing with Street Soccer, don’t think twice about playing with Team England. You won’t regret it. The support you get from the likes of Jack and Craig is amazing. I would say to players to take every opportunity they can. Go and enjoy yourself because it’s the experience that counts. You’ll remember the relationships you build, for life.”

Learn more about Team England, here. More information on the Four Nations tournament will be released later this month.

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32 Boro Cup: Preview

Is it coming home? That’s the question on the lips on everyone’s lips as Street Soccer players enter the 32 Borough Cup this coming Sunday.

Representing Merton Borough, Street Soccer and FAST have selected an 18 man squad to participate in the tournament set up by Hackney Wick FC. In partnership with the Black Prince Trust, we have prepared the squad across numerous training sessions, following an extensive trial period.

Abukar, the goalkeeper for our squad, believes that the boys have a real chance of progressing in the tournament;

“We’re really excited for Sunday, this is the first time a lot of our guys have played together, so it will be a new experience but I feel like we’ve got a good chance to show what we’ve got. I think we’ve got a solid team, training has been going well and the boys are really happy with how things are shaping up.”

There are eight groups of four across the competition and Merton have been placed in Group D with Newham, Waltham Forest and Ealing. Games will be half an hour long, played at the Hackney Marshes. The knockouts will see the top two progress to a Championship route, with the bottom two proceeding to a conference competition.

The tournament was established by Hackney Wick FC, with the aim of engaging with the younger community both on and off the pitch to reduce violence around the city. With all 32 boroughs represented, this will be a great opportunity for the 16-18 year olds to showcase their skills at the event, which will be supported by BT Sport and Nike.

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Abukar highlighted the benefit of the Street Soccer sessions, which have grown since its inception in 2020. More players across the city are participating, with many unlucky not to be selected for the upcoming event;

“I’ve been going to Street Soccer sessions since September and I’ve seen it grow from 20 odd people up to almost 60 people who are really benefitting from the football on offer. It was really hard only picking a squad of 18!”

With England’s European Championship final against Italy later in the day, there is potential for double glory in London. Gareth Southgate’s men are competing in their first final since 1966 in the north of the city, Abukar spoke of the excitement among the squad;

“Depending on when we exit the tournament, a lot of the boys will be hyped for the build up to the Euros final, we’ve never seen England in a final before.”

A new squad and a new experience for the Street Soccer boys, asked if there was anyone to lookout for in particular, Abukar added;

“I wouldn’t say we have any standout players per se, we’ve been unlucky with a few injuries but we have talent all over the pitch. If I was to pick any I’d say look out for Callum and Abdi to cause some damage though!”