Thursday, May 24, 2007

Great Dave! Dave Mcgregor makes U-18 Charlotte United Futbol Club Team

Street Soccer 945 star and Homeless World Cup 2006 Team USA member Dave tried out for the under 18 Charlotte United Football Club last night and made it! Lawrence and I have been watching Dave run circles around adults at the Sport Connection indoor league Street Soccer 945 plays in, but we both knew if David truly was going to pursue his soccer dreams he needed to be training with players his age on a regular basis and playing full field matches 11 versus 11. It is also a great for Dave to be in an environment interacting with kids who are planning on being college athletes, like Dave hopes to be. Street Soccer 945 is the most organized soccer program Dave has ever played for, he grew up literally playing in the streets in Panama without shoes.
When we got to the park I had to find Rob Daulton, the contact person at the club who said dave could come for a tryout. After getting everything straightened out and Dave got his tryout t-shirt with the number 435 on the back, the group of U-18 players gathered on the field kicking around waiting for the coach to come. When he got there the head of the club called the coach over and said "take a look at number 435, he's the kid from the Homeless world Cup." That really made me smile, I couldnt wait for things to get started. For me it brought so much joy to see just see him out there with kids from all across Charlotte fitting in and just playing. It just seemed like this was where Dave was supposed to be. For onlookers Dave looked like he fit right in. Although he was noticibly shy he fit right in and played simple one and two touch soccer and when he saw the right opportunity he showed off his speed and the flare that Street Soccer 945 has been privledged to over the last year. What onlookers didnt know was that this was the first time dave had actually worn cleats when playing soccer on grass. Usually he wore the old indoor shoes we had at the UMC. They didnt know that those cleats he had on were just donated by the same type of kids that Dave was now on the field with. They didnt know this was his first time playing a proper scrimmage where the coach was analyzing his every movement. I had to leave before the tryout was over but when I talked to Dave later in the night and asked him how it went he said modestly and confidently "oh yea, I made it." I could tell it was not just that inconsequential and I smirked as if to say "c'mon on man be serious" and he tried to be cool, like it really was no big deal, but he smiled and I could see his tremendous joy. The coach told him he was "a little raw" but not to worry because he made the team. Three Cheers for Dave!

Season Ends with 4-3 Loss

Street Soccer 945 fell in the quarterfinals of the Sport Connection open league last night in a contest that once again ended with praise from the referee's and spectators and our opponents. It was a well played and hard fought match. It was exciting, our team and our opponents fouled each other and gave each other helping hands when we fell to the ground. There was some physical play and really nice soccer from both teams. Both us and our opponents had genuine respect for each other after the match was over. This has not always been the case, whether it was us letting our emotions get the best of us or our opponents, we have witnessed both. Without having to be reminded after the game we hugged and shook hands with the other team. Our team realized how fair the match was and how hard we played and how we connected passes and acepted that we just did not win. Sometimes that is just the way things go, in life and in soccer. We had no excuses or regrets, we came up short and resolved to come back next season and go for the title that we are creeping ever so closely to. C-White, who had a great training weekend last weekend, played the begining of the game with our hispanic group of Dave, Elmer and Daniel, unfortunatley Daniel injured his shoulder in the first half and so we had to rely on not only White but Pop, Amil and Ray-Ray to play a big roll in this playoff game. Becuase of the nature of Street Soccer 945 and how players find their way onto our team we tend have small groups within the team of players. Our job as coaches is to break those groups fdown and work as whole unit. So you can have a feel for our group let me explain, there is OFT, our music group that hangs together and also shows their dedication to the team by coming to almost every practice. We also have brothers Dave and Michael, who dont make too many practices becuase of school and work, but are always reliable for games. Then there is the Honduran trio who also doesnt come to UMC regualrly because of work schedules and a steadily improving home life. Then there are the old timers like Ray-Ray and Mohammed. We all see each other once a week at games and sometime we click and we win big, but other times Dave and Michael try to play by themselves or Daniel and Elmer arent on the same page as the rest of us, or OFT has one guy tuned in and the others tuned out on the sideline. After bringing us all together last weekend for a Homeless World Cup National Team training weekend we had time to relax and be together without time restrains. We also were able to train and play in a less tense environment that the league games provide. Although we didn't win and there is still much work to be done before we depart for the Homeless World Cup, Street Soccer ended another season with high hopes and encouragement that again next season will be our best yet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

National Team Training Weekend

above picture features the team after their run at the US National Whitewater Park.

The nation pool of hopefuls for the travel sqaud to the Homeless World Cup in Denmarkn gathered in Charlotte for the nation team training weekend.

Players began training friday afternoon with a serious of street soccer mathces at the new Street Soccer Park. Later the national team headed outside the city to the US National Whitewater Training Headquarters for three mile cross country run. Players trained in T-shirts, shorts, and socks donated by the North Carolina Olympic Development Progam and in shoes provided by Europsort's passback program.

The 14 players trying out for 8 spots showed excellent teamwork and good spirit throughout the weekend. Player stayed together at Covenant Presbyerian Church both Friday and Saturday night. Saturday was the longest training day including a morning run and station training before the DOWD YMCA opens its doors to the team for an early afternoon swim and bath. The day finished with a serious of four-a-side matches back at the Street Soccer Park. The team rose early for a final training run on Sunday before departing.

Once a final evaluation of documents is made, the final national team squad will be announced in approximately two weeks.

See here photos of the hopefuls and some video from the weekend.

New Street Soccer Facility Open!

Completion of Street Soccer Pitch:

Announcing a remarkable new facility!

Inspired by the Homeless World Cup, Street Soccer 945 in Collaboration with the College of Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte have completed a customed designed soccer pitch on site at the Urban Minsitry Center in Uptwon Charlotte.

The Street Soccer Park involved over 50 volunteers from the homeless community as well as the hard work and dedication of faculity and students who helped brainstorm, plan, and design the project as part of an Architecture and Activism course put together by UNCC's Linda Samuels and Street Soccer's own Lawrence Cann and advised by Art Professor Francess Hawthorne, also of UNCC.

The project was funded by the first ever Chancellor's Diversity grant at UNCC with matching funds from the College of Architecture and the Urban Ministry Center.

Additionaly, the project incorporated recyled materials and recruited donations of cement and other materials.

The pitch, designed for four on four street soccer in the style of the Homeless World Cup, is divided into a grid that includes original artwork including visual poetry, graffiti, and ex temporanious styles all done by members of the homeless community.

The park played host to national team training for Homeless World Cup in Denmark this past weekend and will host the cities from around the country at the second US Cup in Charlotte this July.

The park also incorporates a stage which will facilitate forums, concerts, and open mics, fostering a postive, proactive environment while raising awareness for the issue of homelessness in the US.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


(the photo above is the center circle of our new on site street soccer pitch. The you see is being raised today so the field wil be ready for play for this weekend's national team camp.)


3-3. It was a game we could have won, probably should have. Our opponents were excellent, a pan latino group called Barcelona, but we were stronger. Yet, we played level headed, we rotated our roster, and as Pop said, "Hey, we didn't lose!" My first reaction was negative to Pop's comment, but actually he's right. This was a game that in the first couple weeks of the season we would have lost, even though we hustled and showed great skill.

We did comeback from being down a goal, but then it was our team which lost a 3-1 advantage. Although our goalie Brian Thompson made some tremendous saves, it was the other team's goalie who was the star as we missed lots of chances.

The entry here is called "comback" because of the players who came back to play. Prince, our ghanaian star of the past has taken the brave step of confronting and accepting his mental illness. He said that he still just doesn't want to accept it, but that he would have to because he wants to get off the street and be able to receive his younger brother if he can come to the United States.

Leo Johnson, a former captain in 2005 of then Art Works Football Club came back. Lean Leo, now in his fourtieth year still has great speed. He hasn't played with us in 8 months but trained on tuesday and made a nice contribution. We continue to congratuate Leo on his sobriety and accomplishment, especially of late.

Our Honduran trio who have kept the job our counselor found them for 7 months now, all drove their own cars to the game. At first they were on foot, Then they were all in one old car. Then two cars. Then one replacement car and now three! Elmer scored two goals and has been perhaps our most consitent player all season. The comeback in this case refers to Daniel who had struggled in his form this season. He has been running everyday for the past two weeks and it showed last night. He returned to quality of play that made him MVP of the first ever US Cup.

The other great comeback was that of Brian Thompson. Brian is our all american member of the team who actually played semi-pro american football. A native of Western North Carolina, Brian was new to soccer. He was dedicated member of our team from the beginning of his involvement and has remained so even though his work has kept him away. Currently he is staying at the Men's shelter, but will be ready to move out soon. This was Brian's first game of the season and it was our last regular season game. He performed excellently, however, making three important saves.

Also in action last night were Dave who added another goal to his team leading tally, Jorge, Mohammed Osman, Josh, Ray, Amil, Pop, C-white, Javier another high schooler and friend of Dave's, Kim, and Ray Isaac. So that makes two africans (sudan and ghana), two brooklynites, three honduranians, one salvadoreno, one panameno, one women, two native charlotteans, two rural western north carolinians, 3 players 18 or under, 3 player fourty, or over, and two virginians as coaches.

Finally let's congratulate Pop on his comeback into the workforce. After much frustration Pop now has two jobs, one full time.

Aso thanks to mo and his children and elyse for giving us good cheer from the sidelines.

Program at Work

Program at Work:

We have a player on our team. He just turned 20 year old. He works two jobs and pays the rent for his mother, two brothers, sister and nephew. Due to his family's transience he missed out on high school. He is completing his GED in his spare time. Recently I asked him, "So besides play soccer getting your ged and working, what do you do? " "I don't know," he said and smiled like a teenager, "That's about it!"

He got home one day recently and noticed his cash box looked different. Sure enough his sister and mother had helped themselves to 3/4s of the$1500 he was saving to buy a car with. In addition, his sister had talked out all his minutes on his cell phone. It is amazing how well adjusted this young man is given what's happened in his life. On this occasion, he lost his temper, kicked the tv against the wall and started yelling at his sister and mother. When he punched the wall. His mother called the police. He was charged with non violent assault on a female and destruction of property. He spent a week in jail and lost one of his jobs.

When we found out about the incident, we went to court with him, called his mother, got her to drop the charges. He had some more time to come to practice for a week and then he quickly found more work. Then, on Sunday, I got a call from his brother, telling me he was in jail, could I help bail him out. He missed the court date for dismissal and the police came out to the apartment in the morning and took him to jail. Since the assault was on a female the bond was set at $2,500 and no bondsman wanted to touch it since he had missed a courtdate and I wasn't a relative. We contacted his work and contacted the DA while we waited for his courtdate. He appeared by video on tuesday to have his bond set. His mother, his siblings said, had left town to work and they weren't exactly clear as to where she went. I got in touch with his uncle however, but he couldn't come to court. I and a volunteer from the soccer program who knows him and took an afternoon off from her job at Wachovia and appeared on his behalf. The judge was recpetive and unsecured his bond and agreed to have him signed out to his uncle.

This I think was our program at work. Without an advocate he would have sat in jail for two weeks awaiting his court date and lost his job. Maybe, if the mother couldn't have gotten together enough money, the family would have been homeless again. It is scary to think that an entirely admirable young man could be criminalized so easily without an advocate, but of course it happens ever day.

New Life: Congrats!

We want to congratuate Amil on the new job he starts doing graphic layout next monday, but most importantly we want to congratulate him on the birth of his daughter, Princess. The photos show Amil and his wife Danielle with their new baby on the day of her birth. Coach Cann snuck in the last one.

We aslo want to congratulate Pop Miller who has been working night shifts after games and now has got his second job. Pop has been frustrated for a long time but has hung in there, so send him you best as he makes this transition.