Craig first started playing football when he was six years old.
“Being from Glasgow, if you were good at football, you were popular. It was that simple,” he says. “I was lucky enough to play football in America and get interest from professional clubs. So many positive things were happening but I took them all for granted.”
Aged 17, Craig signed a professional contract with a football team in Scotland. But early in his career, he developed a substance abuse issue. “I didn’t know when to stop,” he recalls.
Craig’s professional football career came to an end when he was 25, leaving a huge vacuum in his life. Four years later, Craig’s mum died suddenly. Craig isolated himself from the outside world, not wanting people to know the pain he was suffering.
His drug and alcohol abuse got progressively worse over the next ten years. As a result, he lost his home and his job as National Programme Manager with Street Soccer Scotland. Craig then hit an all time low with the death of his father.
“I was lucky enough to spend some time with my dad before he died, but ultimately his death gave me the excuse to use again,” he says. “I’d accepted this was the way my life was going to be.”
A moment of clarity
Craig finally realised he needed to get help in 2015. “I was living in a hostel and eating from food kitchens. I thought, ‘I don’t need to do this anymore’,” he says. His GP referred him to a 12-week rehabilitation programme and Craig has been moving forward with his recovery ever since.
During his treatment, Craig was still involved with Street Soccer Scotland and was offered the chance to attend trials to play for Team Scotland at the Homeless World Cup. Not only did he make the squad, he impressed so much that he was given the honour of being captain.
"Being captain felt like being a superstar," he recalls. "At times we were playing in front of 3,000 people. My family came to watch, as did friends who I’d lost contact with over the years."
Part of something special
At the tournament, Craig met Centrepoint Sport for the first time. He learnt about what Centrepoint’s Sport programme offers homeless young people and wanted to be a part of it.
To the surprise of his friends and family, Craig decided to move to London from Scotland and volunteer for Centrepoint. After six months he became a permanent member of staff.
“Joining Centrepoint gave me a purpose – I really feel part of something special. The culture throughout the organisation is really positive and people are passionate about making a change,” he says.
“Last year I was able to go to the Homeless World Cup as a coach of Team England, so I’ve come full circle. It was amazing – I’m proud of myself and the young people we took for getting to this point in our lives.
“I believe you should never shut a door on anyone. If people had shut a door on me, I wouldn’t be here today. That’s why I always keep the door open for the young people we work with at Centrepoint.
“Centrepoint was never in my wildest dreams an option, but I’m really grateful to be here. I’m doing something with real purpose, and hopefully it continues for a long time.”
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