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Founder of Street Soccer Scotland David Duke honoured with MBE

David Duke is on the New Year Honours list (Dougie Nicolson / DC Thomson)
David Duke is on the New Year Honours list (Dougie Nicolson / DC Thomson)

A FORMER homeless man who dedicates himself to helping others out of hardship leads the list of Scottish MBEs in the New Year Honours list.

After the death of his father and problems with alcohol, David Duke was living rough in Glasgow when he saw an advert for the 2003 Homeless World Cup in Sweden.

He started training and was picked as part of the Scotland team which finished fourth at the competition.

Returning home, he got more involved in football coaching and led the Scotland team to World Cup victory four years later.

David Duke: Everyone living on our streets this winter knows they might not make it. We shouldn’t feel helpless. We should feel angry

In 2009, Mr Duke founded Street Soccer Scotland (SSS) to help other people experience the transforming power of sport.

It provides free drop-in football sessions across the country as well as employment, skills and coaching courses.

The 37-year-old said: “Our ethos is trying to help people help themselves with a bit of guidance and opportunity.

“Back in 2004 when I was in a difficult situation myself with homelessness and stuff like that, it was people who provided me with support and opportunities that allowed me to move out of that.

“We’re just trying to repeat that and inspire others.”

He was taken by surprise by the award of an MBE for services to football and socially disadvantaged people and said it is recognition for all the staff and volunteers at Street Soccer Scotland.

“It’s not really something you think about,” Mr Duke said.

“I got the letter in and it took me by shock, but really it’s not just about me, it’s recognition of the wider piece in terms of the work that all the staff and volunteers do.

“There have been so many people on the outside who have given us help and support and it’s kind of for them as well, but I’m totally humbled and shocked by it.

“I’m happy to accept it but I’m just the frontman, it’s on behalf of everybody I work with and who helped me.

“There’s nothing fancy that we do, we just try to connect people to build trust and help people along. If everybody does a little bit we can make a big difference.”

The mission of SSS is to eradicate poverty and Mr Duke hopes the MBE can be a sign of what people dealing with hard times can achieve.

“There’s a lot of stigma around homelessness, some people are really judgemental, but something like this can only help challenge perceptions and show what people can achieve even if they’ve had a difficult time,” he said.

“But you need to be given that opportunity and support when you need it.”