Huntingdon footballer named England captain at Homeless World Cup

Josh Brinkman

Josh Brinkman - Credit: Archant

It’s a dream that most football fans will have had at one time or another – captaining their country at the World Cup, leading the team to victory.

Usually, only the most elite players get to live the dream.

But Huntingdon’s Josh Brinkman has been given a taste of what it’s like – he’s gone from being homeless to being whisked away to Chile to play for England at the Homeless FA’s World Cup.

And his captaincy started well – on the first day of the annual four-a-side tournament, England beat the USA 6-1. But the team were defeated by Bulgaria in the second game in Group C, and were due to face Holland this afternoon (Tuesday).

Josh, 22, joined up with the Homeless FA after being referred by Huntingdon’s Salvation Army hostel.

He said: “I’m lost for words. I’m trying to take in the atmosphere as much as I can, it’s brilliant. When we first got here it was so busy, and everyone started dancing and getting involved, mingling with people.

“Even with the language barriers, we’ve still found a way to communicate with people and have fun.”

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Unlike any other England team, players are not picked according to their footballing ability, or age. Instead, they are selected for showing a positive attitude, teamwork, commitment, interpersonal skills, and improved physical health.

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, over two thirds of the men and women that 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 they feel more confident. So we know what we’re doing works.”

Josh was homeless for 18 months after his mum fell behind on rent payments and spent much of that time sleeping in his car.

The seven-day tournament, which involves 63 teams from 49 nations, ends on Sunday.