A Rhyl College student who spent time living on a relative's sofa after a family disagreement, has been selected to represent Wales in the Homeless World Cup in Mexico next month.
Football-mad Lauren Jones, 20, from Rhyl, who is currently studying on the Level 2 Public Services at Coleg Llandrillo's Rhyl campus, will be flying out to Mexico City to take part in the 16th edition of the Homeless World Cup. The tournament will take place in the city's iconic Zocalo square, right in the heart of the Mexican capital, from November 13-18.
More than 500 players representing 47 countries will travel to Mexico City to attend the inspiring week-long festival of football, in what is predicted to be one of the most spectacular Homeless World Cup tournaments yet.
Before jetting off to North America, Lauren will be taking time out from her studies, as she is being filmed for a feature by the BBC at Rhyl College.
Following a family disagreement, Lauren left home at 15, and went to live at her nan's, sleeping on the sofa. She eventually resolved her differences and is now back living at her mum's.
An ex-Blessed Edward Jones High School pupil, Lauren excelled on her previous course in hairdressing at the Rhyl campus, winning several medals in competitions before slowly losing interest. She then signed up for the Public Services course, as she had always wanted to become a policewoman.
I am over the moon to have been picked for the tournament in Mexico. I have played football since I could walk. I played for Kinmel Bay and Rhyl, before going to a Street Football Wales football tournament at Eirias Park, Colwyn Bay in 2016, which sparked my interest.
Street Football Wales is the organisation that selects the Welsh Homeless World Cup team.
After months of hard work, she was awarded the title of 'Player of the Year', which led to her being chosen for the national Street Football Wales team earlier this year. Street Football Wales organise the Welsh Homeless international teams: the Welsh Dragons (male) and the Welsh Warriors (female). The initiative is south Wales-based, so Lauren has to travel down there every week. She and her teammates were VIP guests at the recent Wales international game against Spain, where she got to meet her footballing idols.
I am the first to admit that I was a nightmare in school. The Public Services course has given me such a confidence boost and persuaded me to follow a healthy lifestyle. College has definitely helped me get back on my feet: I have found my maturity and can't wait for the future.
Street Football Wales provides a platform for people who are socially excluded, building on their confidence, self-esteem, health, fitness and providing social integration through football. Teams are made up of players who face social exclusion through homelessness, substance misuse, mental ill health or cultural issues.
To find out more about our courses in Public Services, please visit: www.gllm.ac.uk/public
Or contact the college on 01745 354 797.