The men were a forgotten group, living rough on the city's streets and seeing no future. Today, they all have stable jobs and see hope. Thanks to football. The Homeless World Cup started in 2003 and is renowned for helping homeless people regain their confidence and get off the streets. Now it is proving its worth in Hong Kong, with seven homeless men returning to normal lives and finding jobs. They are members of the Dawn Homeless Football Team who left last night for South Africa, where they will represent the city in this year's competition in Cape Town. Organised by the Society for Community Organisation and funded by the Jockey Club, the team is the second from Hong Kong to take part in the event. Members of both teams have left the streets and found jobs, said social worker Ng Wai-tung, who initiated the project in 2004 and recruited players from the city's streets and shelters. Mr Ng said helping homeless people gain the willpower to return to society had always been an uphill battle for social workers, and he was surprised by the project's success. 'I didn't have high expectations ... but it worked. They all want to face their problems and changed. I was so surprised,' he said. 'They feel that they have an identity and have expectations of themselves and don't want to fall back on to the streets.' Wong Chor-pa, 53, was on the brink of suicide when he was sleeping on the streets. 'I saw no hope of my future,' he recalled. But a few weeks after he started playing soccer - an interest since childhood - he saw changes in himself. 'I used to not listen to people. Now that my teammates have taught me how to play football, I have become more open-minded,' said Mr Wong, who has recently found a job as a driver. Another player, Kwok Tak-lung, 28, was a commercial design graduate and computer salesman earning $20,000 a month. But then he was jailed for theft - a crime that cost him his job and left him on the streets. His fate was changed when he met Mr Ng, who introduced him to the team. 'Before, I easily gave up. I didn't want to run in training at first. Once I saw Chor-pa running non-stop, I thought that he was much older than me and was still so persistent. I told myself that I shouldn't give up so easily,' Mr Kwok said. 'I am much happier. I found a job as a forwarding company messenger which pays me HK$6,500 a month,' he said with satisfaction. 'I will continue to play football.' In 2003, builder Chan Wan-shing lost his job and became homeless. But in July, when he met Mr Ng, his life changed and he now runs a small shop. 'When I played I forgot my unhappiness,' he said. 'When I won, I felt more confident ... I have found a purpose. My wife and siblings are so happy to see the change.'