VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Down on Hastings Street they are unaware that the Women’s World Cup is being played just a few kilometers away and know nothing of England’s Fara Williams.
But for the those living rough on Vancouver’s skid row, Williams could be an inspiration, the English midfielder having once been one of them.
Homeless for six years while she chased her soccer dream, Williams will run out onto the BC Place Stadium pitch in front of a capacity crowd of close to 55,000 for a quarter-final clash with Canada on Saturday.
”I never thought it could happen,“ Williams told Reuters about playing in front of such a massive crowd. ”As I have progressed through the women’s game I’ve seen the change in it, the development.
”I guess it is one of those moments you dream of but the realism of it is a little bit different.
”You have to embrace it and take in what is in front of you.
“All players have dreamt of these moments playing against the home nation in front of 55,000. These are the moments you train for over the years you aspire to be involved in.”
The dream may not be unique but Williams’s path to soccer’s biggest stage is not one well-travelled.
Williams spent many nights sleeping on London’s streets, keeping her life secret from team mates and coaches.
When she made her international debut for England in 2001 as a 17-year-old she was living in a hostel.
Fourteen years later, Williams is a well-establish presence on the sixth-ranked England squad playing in her third World Cup.
Already England’s most capped player, the 31-year-old will make her 144th appearance for her country on Saturday and plans to add even more to that total before she leaves Canada.
“It’s a different team than we have been in the past, the whole squad really wants to achieve something, we are all together in it,” said Williams. “It will be an interesting game on Saturday.”
While Williams’ story is well-known and inspirational it remains one she is not completely comfortable discussing and was off limits during a recent interview.
She has earned a living as a coach and player, leading Liverpool to a pair of league titles. Her life and the
women’s game are both success stories.
“When we get opportunities to showcase we try to do that as best we can as individuals and a team,” said Williams.
”The coverage (of the World Cup) has been great and certainly when I speak to family and friends they tell me how the support back home has been really big far more than it has been before.
“It would be fantastic if we can have a good game against Canada on Saturday and we can only grow that.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford