Friday, October 13, 2006

Street Soccer Video on Fox

Click on the title above to link to a report about our team by Bob Buckley

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

World Cup 06 Photos!

Dave and Craig have landed. These two fight like brothers as they vie to be the team's "cutest" member. Here they get pumped up during openning day.

Here Dave models the stars and stripes. The stadium is immediately behind him. Behind that the historic court house and clock. Behind that, the unmistakable Table Top Mountain.

Here is Charlotte's Cyrus Wuor, a native of Liberia, with his countrymen.

I've told the story now often about Dave looking at the children, then mentioning to the coaches how sad it was that they were so hungry. He then left the stadium, brought the kids into the event, passed them the flag, and had them cheer for us. Here is a photo of Dave's fan club!

We could not escape the impression the 2005 team made on the world in Edinburgh. The Deputy Mayor of Cape Town in a public address called Ray Isaac by name and said to the audience that the spirit of the American team had stayed with her throughout the entire year since Edinburgh. Here is a portrait of last year's Stephanie Johnson of Charlotte. We chanced upon this portrait posted with four others in the castle which served as the media center for the Homeless World Cup. Notice Coach Rob's head poking in.

Check out the Cape Town coastline. To be honest, the most meaningful parts of the trip were the excursions we made away from the soccer tournament. There was the trip to the township during which we saw how the people really lived, and then there was the entire day we spent along the farthest reaches of the African continent. We saw whales jumping and flipping their tales, penguins darting underwater like torpedos, baboons stalking cars, and we experienced fellowship we will never forget.

C-white and Abusseyf

Guess Who? . . . . Michael Knight of DC and Dave McGregor of Charlotte

Here's our group at the penguin reserve--the penguins are behind us. the guy in the middle is a friend our team made from Liberia who took the excursion with us.

The lady in the center of this picture was our host. She is the principle of Rochamaniyah School where the team slept.

Dave was close friends with the Paraguayan team--they had four 16 year old girls on their team!

Goodbye to the crowds!

We remembered our sponsors on top of Table Top Mountain. Our camera ran our of batteries but here we are remembering DC United. We also remembered US Soccer, Eurosport Passback, Covenant Presbterian, Big Ben's, Coca Cola Bottling, Bank of America, of course the Urban Ministry Center, and so many other individuals and groups that made our life changing trip possible. Thank you!

And of course, on top of Table Top, we didn't forget where we came from!
God Bless America

Two sets of brothers

Brothers Dave and Michael

Michael also made the national team but his new job prevented him from taking up the offer. He is very focused on making the team next year. I post this picture of them today because of our capricious encounter this afternoon. Rob and I left our extend staff meeting and headed to Charlotte Emergency Housing to pay Dave a visit. As we passed Phieffer street where dinner is served for those on the street we saw the soccer crowd. There was Dave and Michael with the rest of the gang. As it was wednesday, the two had walked over to see if there was a game.

It was good timing for the two of them. When the family had hit the street, Michael, 19, found a friend whose parent allowed him to stay for a while. Michael informed me that seeing how Dave's mother was having a hard time getting enough work to get out of emergency housing, he was going to leave the home he was staying in to move in with Dave and his mother in order to help them all get an apartment. Michael's idea is to keep on working for a month, in the meantime, to help his mother find work, and to move out, the three of them, come November. So Rob and I rode Michael and Dave out to Michael's former home and picked up his shoes, a large duffle, and his winter jacket, and took them back over to Charlotte Emergency Housing. He had no other easy way to transport the stuff.

It was good to hear that Dave had an easy transition back to school and thought he would be prepared for his exams next Monday. Michael wants our help getting his GED and pell grant. He has concrete plans for achieving the American dream. IF he can not misstep over the next two years, I am sure he will achieve that dream. These two brothers will help guide our program as examples for the other participants over the next six months. For me and my brother, it is great fortune to have them.

Street Soccer Reserves Do Us Proud at Home

toney kelly

Toney Kelly, 2005 Cup veteran, sat out the Cape Town trip while Street Soccer 945 went to represent the country in the World Cup. However, that didn't stop Toney from playing soccer. The Wednesday of our departure for South Africa coincided with the semifinals of our local league. Toney rallied the team along with Amil Livingston in the absence of the coaches and the core players. The two also recruited the help of Community Works 945Garden Guru, Don Boekelheide for transportation. Our three women and several of the other Street Soccer Reserves formed a team and represented us in the semifinals, saving us the shame of our first ever forfeit. Although they lost 15-0, the group deserves an amazing amount of credit for putting forth such and effort to get a ride, wash the uniforms, and gather the equipment. It is a true testimony to the importance the activity of soccer carries for them. Vive el Futbol! Great Job Street Soccer!

Hot and Cold

craig holley

We took time in the middle of of the tournament to visit one of the townships in District 6.

The first stop was a community center not unlike the Urban Ministry Center. The director was a playwright. Posters of her productions graced the walls of her office. She answered emails at her computer while counseling two people reclined on her couch. Downstairs local craftsmen exhibited their wares in the center as well. While one man who fashions trashcans, fan blades, cigarette containers, model airplanes, and sundry other items out of red aluminum coca cola cans gave us an enthusiastic presentation, you could hear the clicking of keyboards in the adjacent room where a resume-writing and job-searching class was taking place. On the corkboard in the hallway announcements and pamphlets about an anti-gun and anti-gang program were pinned up. What was most salient about the place was its immaculate cleanliness and the detailed craftmanship employed in the contruction and the decoration--relief murals and paint jobs, etc.

In a small courtyard we joined an impromptu dance with youth who were choreagraphing their own group performance. We left the center and our conversations with the people there reluctantly.

We followed our guide to his blacksmith shop, a non profit venture where they train blacksmiths while also selling their work. Craig said, "I feel like I am home." Our guide handed Craig and piece of iron and showed him how to hold it in the fire till it glowed. He beat it across the anvil, stretching it, and curling it as he pleased. Craig took the hammer and the iron and moved it back and forth from the fire, weaving around of the other young men in the progam, each holding iron glowing orange with fire. I realized absractly how incredibly dangerous the situation was, but the sure movement and fearless understanding of the workers in front of me had an air of infallibilty. I had to admit, the workroom was completely safe.

I sat back and watched Craig hammer away at the maleable orange iron. I looked at the slight smile coupled with the concentration on his face. I looked at C-white who was talking with Michael from DC. This is what all this intervention is like, all the hours and after hours, the conversations, the frustrations, the high fives, the driving, the running, the cleaning together. We do it everyday, warm each other to the point that we can change our forms as human beings. Then there is the difficult part. The part I experienced after the trip, after the two days additional shelter we provided in Charlotte, when those who had moved into places had gone back into those places, and when those who had nowhere to go had to go back out on their own into the evening. I see it everyday, the cooling that takes place at night, the hardenning. You develop a relationship, you get to an understanding and everyone involved draws conclusions. Then the night comes, the rain, the cold . . . the community ends for several hours. You see the same people in the morning and they look at you like strangers. They haven't eaten, they are cranky until the day heats up (if it does at all) and the blacksmithing begins, and always ends too early. You think how much could be resolved if these folks just weren't homeless.

We were due back at our game but it was hard dragging Craig out of the blacksmith shop. He took time to shake every person's hand and ask their name. Jeff bought Craig a momento from the shop--you would have thought he bought him a new car. When we got to the van, half the players were missing. We searched up the alley, back in the building. They were nowhere to be found. Finally a local said he had seen them. We caught sight of Abussey in the distance. Our players were wandering the through the laberynth of quiet tin shantis, divided by narrow dirt footpaths, happhazardly dividing the makeshift abodes into a sort of grid pattern. C-white was squatting in a woman's hut with his camera. Michael was rounding a corner with the cautious reverence of someone in the most holy of precincts. The extent of these homes was vast, seemingly as vast as the open sky above us. You could see how vast because not a single one was even six feet hight. It was so quiet you could here the light breeze brush across the dirt and loose fabric. There our team was, in South Africa.