Everton FC midfielder Muhamed Besic has recalled how a trip to a shelter inspired him to start supporting homeless charities. The 22-year-old visited a centre near Tuzla, Bosnia two years ago and the distressing scenes he witnessed that day made an impact.
Besic became an ambassador for Emmaus-MSF, the Bosnian arm of the international charity which aims to tackle poverty and homelessness, and last year gave a reported 5,000 Euros to the Bosnia Homeless Team so they could pay for travel and expenses for the World Cup in Chile.
Now, the Blues favourite is backing the work Everton in the Community as they deliver training programmes designed by the Homeless FA (HFA).
Besic was at Goals Soccer Centre in Netherton on Tuesday to join in with the training session and speak with participants about how the programme has helped those who have experienced homelessness.
Helping to combat homelessness is an issue Besic feels strongly about and the Everton man says the extent of the problem in his homeland meant he had to try and help.
“It is really bad,” Besic told the ECHO.
“Also after the war, people struggled to understand and they forget things and live in the past. There are bad things.
“One friend told me about this because I didn’t know. So I went to see them and I had to start helping them.
“They build the centre up more and more each year. They didn’t use to have a pitch but now they do.
“They are thankful people.”
A picture of Besic now sits above the door to the centre he visited in the north east of Bosnia two years ago.
“They also sent me a picture from the World Cup saying ‘thank-you’” he said.
“It makes you happy and there is another side than just football.
“I like to see people be happy.”
Everton are one of 12 clubs who provide a Training Centre for the Homeless FA which incorporates a schedule of incentivised learning as well as delivering a Sports Leadership qualification to each participating player.
The EiTC staff who are involved with the programme help support the Homeless FA mentors, who are people that have been through a Training Centre and have now adopted roles within the HFA to support the current players.
Yesterday, they had an extra coach as Besic joined in the session.
He added: “The football session was great to get involved in and it’s great to see how happy the people are to see you here, they see you as a star so it is nice to see.
“Here the programme is more established, it is amazing. In Bosnia it is worse because there is less money and not as many opportunities but here it is really amazing.
You can also see here how the staff are really helping them and it helps you to realise what people’s lives can be like.”
For more information on the work of the Homeless FA visit homelessfa.org/ .