Former soldier recognised for volunteer football coaching role

South Wales Argus: PRIZE GUY: Paul Scarfi, centre, receives his award from Newport County AFC manager Justin Edinburgh, right, after being nominated by Geraint Edwards, left PRIZE GUY: Paul Scarfi, centre, receives his award from Newport County AFC manager Justin Edinburgh, right, after being nominated by Geraint Edwards, left

A FORMER soldier from Newport has been recognised for his tireless volunteer work in helping to provide football coaching for homeless people.

Paul Scarfi works with Street Football Wales and manages the Welsh Dragons team, which has competed at the Homeless World Cup.

He travels from Newport to Swansea to attend weekly training sessions and has been praised for taking annual leave from his job at a homeless charity to carry out his voluntary role.

He was also lauded for helping women and girls become involved in playing football and this week he was rewarded with the BBC Cymru Wales' Sports Unsung Hero award.

Geraint Edwards, who nominated Scarfi, explained: “I was homeless, taking loads of drugs... he helped me get off everything. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I am now.”

It is a lot to take in for modest Scarfi, who admits he is nervous about the prospect of making a speech if he wins at the national BBC Sports Personality of the Year show this Sunday.

“We go up to Leeds on Sunday to compete with all the other regional winners and that will be nerve-racking,” he said.

“I had a speech prepared but thankfully I didn’t have to give one the other night so we’ll see if I need it on Sunday!

“It’s an honour and a privilege to have won this award,” he added.

“I don’t do what I do to win awards so this has come as a massive shock and a surprise but to know that you are appreciated makes it extra special.

“You do it really because you want to see people better themselves but for all that I do they need to want to help themselves as well.

“That is part of the ethos behind Street Football Wales. We don’t pick our sides on ability alone. I don’t select a team to win the World Cup. I select a team that is going to benefit from the whole experience and use that to move on with their lives.”

Newport County AFC fan Scarfi was thrilled to receive his award from Exiles boss Justin Edinburgh and is hoping to link up with his local club in the future.

“I’m a Newport fan and I love watching them so it was great to get the award from Justin,” he said.

“He didn’t give me any coaching tips but I will be looking to meet up with him again hopefully.

“At Street Football Wales we’re always looking to build good relationships with teams in Wales and players.

“Ashley Williams is our patron and we’re always looking for more support.

“We’re starting a homeless league in Newport so we’re always looking for people to help out.

“Anyone who thinks they can help with fundraising or volunteering can contact us via the website at streetfootballwales.org.”

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