A FOOTBALL team that provides a “lifeline” for homeless people has achieved its biggest victory to date after making it through to a league cup final.

The Bournemouth Churches Housing Association team - known as BCHA FC - includes players who have experienced homelessness or battled with addictions to alcohol or drugs.

This season the team scored over 100 goals and won every single game in the SWEA Churches League, taking them all the way to the title match at the County Ground in Poole.

Team coach and founder Daryl Gibbins is also a full time senior practitioner at the BCHA and it was his work with homeless young people which prompted him to start the team in 2008.

He said: “The team was established to provide a lifeline to homeless and vulnerable people and uses football as a tool to get people back into positive activities and help build their self-esteem and confidence.

“Many of the lads who have been involved with BCHA FC over the years have come along having faced difficulties and struggles most of us cannot imagine. But when they step out onto a football field they become part of a team and their whole focus becomes that team.”

Among the current players is 27-year-old David Coney who said: “Playing in the team alongside the good friends I have made gave me the motivation I needed to improve my life.”

Harry Walsh, 22, has been playing for the team since he was 17 and was chosen from players across the country to represent England in the Homeless World Tournament in Portugal when he was 18.

Harry was homeless for approximately two years after becoming estranged from his father but now has a home and a job in a bar.

He said: “It's helped me with my confidence. It's helped me work with relationships, helped me be positive about things and have better mental health as well.”

Unfortunately the team lost 2-1 to Bournemouth Community Church, but Mr Gibbins described the sense of achievement as “huge.”

He said: “I’m so proud of these guys and I’m looking forward to even more success with them in the years to come.”