Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What's it's like to Win.

(pictures--members of street soccer and the homeless community prepare art on the new street soccer field being built on site at the Urban Ministry Center as part of a design-build project at the UNCC College of Architecture. In the other photo, blurry Michael McGregor speeds past yet another defender.)

Street Soccer 945 Newsletter(4-17-07)

I am laying on the carpet in my old college soccer shorts with my head resting on two half full bottles of water. I am looking up at a 130 pound, twenty-year old Asian man who goes by the street name “c-white.” He’s telling a story about being challenged on the transit bus. He first hears something about a chinaman. A 6-3 guy a few rows back is looking at c-white out of the corner of his eye while talking to three giggling girls. The next thing "white," as we call him, knows the guys is asking him if he has change for a dollar. White says, no. Then in begins: Name calling, taunting. Then next thing white knows the guy has his put his own face so close to white’s that their noses touch. White finally pushes him off. It is his stop and he gets off. The fellow follows. This is the story white is telling. White has gotten up out of his chair in front of me. He starts describing how this altercation or scrap, those being the terms he applies to the incident, progresses. He side steps the pile of blue uniforms we all have worn in the game inorder to show how this fellow kept swinging at him and how he kept dodging low and the fellow kept hitting him in the arm. That’s what this from, white says. Sure enough white’s shoulder is black and blue--an impressive welt. I look at it in disbelief that I hadn’t notice it earlier. Like all of us there, white is shirtless and in his boxers. This is the timeless period of time after a victory that you just feel the blood tingling in your capilaries, enjoy the sweet fatigue of of your quadriceps and hamstrings while you swap stories and share laughs. On this day, white, who by his own admission is not a “people person,” is animated. He goes on and on philisophizing his way through stories of altercations that he, as a slight of build loner, has to face at night on the bus etc. He picks up themes of manhood, composure and eastern religion, and even the extent to which social services the Urban Ministry Center enable people. What does it do for you, I quickly as him. It keeps me out of trouble, keeps me from doing what I am trying not to do and more focused on what I am trying to do, you feel me?, he says.

6-3 was not jus the height of white's assailant, but also 6-3 was the final tally of tonight’s game, a victory for Street Soccer 945. The game got off to an amazing start . . . for the opponents. About 45 seconds into the match they launched a long ball spinning backward into our end just outside the goal box. Their forward was well positioned, but our defender was still marking tight from the goal side. Their forward, rather than trapping the long ball ,volleyed a looping shot into the far side net of our goal to give them a lead. Three minutes later after we missed a pair of chances they scored a second goal on an excellent but isolated attack. As we pressured but couldn't find the net the game picked up it’s intensity. We got one back on an individual effort and played some nice combinations only to fall behind again 3-2, but notched a goal with just five seconds left to make it 3-3 at half. It was in the second half that Street Soccer really defined itself. As the game became more and more competative, both sides started to get into it. We preached play hard but fair and successfully walked away from several altercations. Just after we went up 4-3 on a Dave McGregor goal, the other team came out even more aggresively so much so that they received a red card and a two-minute penalty so that they played a man down for the ensuing five minutes and two men down for the following two minutes. Amazingly we hit the post, barely missed a long distance chip, and slammed two shots just wide during our power play, but could not put the ball away. Finally a Michael Mcgregor goal gave us some breathing room and we added another to coast to victory.

On the ride back we talked about how silly the other team looked foulding and complaining and about how our new formation really worked. Up till now we have kept on talking. The game was at 11pm and now it is 1:30. This is nice, I think to myself. We’ll sleep here for a few hours at the Urban Ministry Center and then head out when the sun comes up. Then this time will be over. Two guys are heading to labor pool at 4am, another to a construction sight, the other out to his job at Carowinds, but not till midday. The last one is just going to be first in line to do laundry at the Center in the morning. It’s back to normal, at least until next week.

No comments: