Street Soccer Scotland is off to Mexico to take part in the Homeless World Cup.

59 nations are taking part in the 4-a-side tournament kicking off on Saturday 6th October.

Defender Jay Thomson is part of the squad and has been supported by Turning Point Scotland’s Edinburgh services in Leith. To wish him well we kitted him out  Jay and Craig8 with a new pair of boots and tracksuit as a tribute to all his hard work getting into the team. Jay dropped into Turning Point Scotland’s Govan Road office to receive his tracksuit and boots from Business Development & Improvement Manager Craig Winter.

The 24 year old from Edinburgh is clearly relishing the experience and the positive impact it is having on his life.

Jay said:

“I started going along to football sessions at Street Soccer, three times a week, and I heard that the trials for the Homeless World Cup were coming up. I went along and there were three rounds, the first two rounds were in Edinburgh and I got through that. The last round, sixteen players were chosen to go through to Glasgow and then after that round eight players were picked out of the sixteen. I got the phone call and I was delighted to hear that I was chosen. I was buzzing, absolutely buzzing. I didn’t know how to put it into words. Very proud of myself and just really chuffed.”

“I was training with Motherwell under 11s when I was younger, played with all sorts of boys clubs. Had loads and loads of trophies and stuff. I love playing football and this is what I’ve got out of it so far in quite a short space of time. It’s definitely an experience I’m really looking forward to.

It keeps you busy, it gives you structure. You know the night before ‘I’ve got the fitbaw the morn’, it gets you out the house and you’re meeting people. You’ve got the fitbaw and being part of a team, communication’s a big thing. You feel good, it’s positive, like the gym, you feel good after the gym, it’s the same thing.”

The tournament has been running since 2003 and Scotland have already had their name on the trophy in 2007 and 2011. Last year’s winners paraded the trophy around Hampden before the Scotland versus Lithuania game last September. Scottish football legends Andy Goram and Alan Rough are just some of the big names wishing the team well in 2012.

But Jay says he isn’t too nervous:

“I’m just going to enjoy it. I’m going to try my best, it’s all I can do. Hopefully all the guys will do our best and it will be good enough to get us victories. It would be really amazing to bring the trophy back. Obviously Scotland are the holders so we would be the first to win twice on the trot. It would be great, be brilliant. But we’ve just got to take one game at a time and keep that team spirit going. We’ve got a really good team spirit and we keep supporting each other, on and off the park. We all get on great, we’ve got a right good bunch. We gel well as a team on and off the park. Fingers crossed we might need a wee bit of luck but hopefully we’ll do ourselves proud over there.

We’re ranked third in the world and Mexico are second, and then Brazil number one. Scotland beat Mexico in the final last year 4-3. It can be done, being ranked third in the world, it’s great.

I never dreamed of pulling on any jersey, let alone a Scotland jersey. Most of my jerseys would get sold off my back when things were a bit mad. I never ever thought I’d be representing Scotland. Never ever crossed my mind. It’s great, absolutely amazing.

First passport, first fitbaw tournament away, first time to Mexico. First everything, first experience. I’ve got a wee son on the way as well now in February, it’s great. It’s been a year and it’s hard to explain, it’s just really really good. I’ve got a lot of good things going on just now and I’m just really grateful.”

Last year’s winners played against Alex Rae’s former SPL and media all-stars at New Douglas Park in Hamilton last December. The match was to raise awareness of the GAP partnership, involving the former Rangers player’s charity The Second Chance Project and Turning Point Scotland’s South East Alternatives and Milestone services.