Swan Lodge residents triumph in regional football final
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Swan Lodge residents triumph in regional football final

May 01, 2024

published on 30 Aug 2023

Residents from Salvation Army Lifehouse, Swan Lodge in Sunderland, showed they were on the ball after being declared champions in a northern football tournament following a 3-0 nail-biting final against a team from Manchester.

The five-a-side tournament in Liverpool, organised by Change Grow Live, a charity that supports people in addiction recovery, kicked off the first of a number of competitive matches for Swan Lodge, who have been training with former Sunderland AFC player and South Shields manager Julio Arca.

Their team Sunderland A, made up of Swan Lodge residents and Change Grow Live members, beat 11 others to be crowned champions.

Swan Lodge is a Salvation Army Lifehouse providing accommodation for up to 65 adults aged 18 and over who are homeless. As well as providing a place to stay, the service offers support to help people overcome the reasons they became homeless in the first place and move on with their lives. Football and fitness sessions, hosted by Argentine national Julio since the beginning of the year, and funded by Sunderland City Council Hendon ward and Morrisons Foundation, form part of the support for residents.

Andy Smith, Swan Lodge support worker, who has been running regular football training sessions for years, said: “I’ve never been so proud of the lads as they were tough games. There were 12 teams in the competition altogether, and our Sunderland team only went on to win the full tournament!

“They ran their socks off all day, smashing the final with a 3-0 win and bringing the trophy home to the North East!

“It’s events like this when the benefits of the training sessions shows as you can see how much their fitness ability has improved. It’s not only great for their physical health, but we see how sports helps with residents’ mental health and in managing addictions, not to mention building friendships and improving overall morale.”

Having won the northern final, the Sunderland A team will now take part in the Change Grow Live UK final football match against the winners of the southern team later this month. This will be followed by The Salvation Army’s Partnership Trophy football tournament on September 28, which brings together teams from Lifehouses across the UK and Ireland, as well as a charity match against Northumbria Police.

Swan Lodge Lifehouse has already taken part in two football matches to raise money for Amber’s Law, a charity campaigning on cervical cancer, and the Bradley Lowery Foundation, which raises awareness of Neuroblastoma.

The team has also raised more than £1,000 through raffles, events and bucket collections for Jade Nichols, a 33-year-old local mum and stepmum, whose family are trying to raise £140,000 to help treat the cancer she was diagnosed with in October 2022.

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