Celebrating #WSW16 we look back at Sarah Rhind's story:

Sarah was just 13 when she started getting involved with alcohol and drugs but her story is not the stereotypical one.

Unlike many young people who develop addiction, Sarah grew up in a loving and supportive family in Aberdeen but this didn't stop a dangerous spiral down a dangerous road. Sarah describes how she never felt she belonged despite knowing her family were right behind her. She was always a little bit different and when you're a teenager and you don't feel like you fit in, alcohol can unfortunately become the route many take in the hopes of being a part of something, being a bit more confident, being a bit more 'normal'.

But the reality is she never felt like she belonged until she found Street Soccer Scotland. In 2014 Sarah decided, after the tragic death of her father, that she was "sick of being sick" and entered a treatment centre in Glasgow. Within a few months the centre had managed to tap into what Sarah describes as her only ever passion - football - and so, nervous but excited, she went along to her first drop-in session and her life began to change.

For the first time in a long time Sarah had a sense of belonging and although it wasn't always easy, every time she turned up at the sessions she was given a warm welcome and encouragement. By early the following year she was on the Football Works course which provides opportunities to gain skills, training and qualifications towards employment. She travelled to Malta as part of this programme and started to believe in herself, started to believe that things really could get better.

With this newfound belief Sarah tried out for the Homeless World Cup team who would travel to Amsterdam in September 2015. When Chief Executive of Street Soccer, David Duke, told her she was the first female player chosen to be part of the team she couldn't believe it: "I could list off so many words and feelings. It was just overwhelming."

And that overwhelming feeling was replicated every day during the Homeless World Cup. Sarah speaks proudly and thoughtfully of that week spent with other homeless players from all over the world and describes her fellow competitors as "walking miracles."

To represent your country is a huge achievement for anyone but for those at the Homeless World Cup it is so much more than that:

"To me it was a symbol of hope, determination, strength and courage. It was the first time in my life I was proud to say I was an addict in recovery. I wasn't ashamed of my scars because they showed I was stronger than what tried to kill me."

And she continues to go from strength to strength. Sarah is now working as a Aberdeen Coordinator for Street Soccer Scotland and is proud of becoming a positive and productive member of society. She wants to keep giving back and owes much to the early intervention by Street Soccer Scotland who nurtured her and saw potential in her when she couldn't see it in herself:

"I live a life I'm proud of today and Street Soccer gave me that."

Report & Picture: Street Soccer Scotland


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