Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Season

Street Soccer played its first two games on back to back nights. We almost didn't make this evening's game when our van got a flat tire just one mile after leaving the UMC. The tire had a big gash in it and we inflated it just enough to go back to the center by using a "flat fixer" can we bought at a gas station around the corner. Back at the center, we piled into the coaches two cars and made it to the game 2 mintutes before kickoff. Good thing we left early and got dressed out ahead of time.

In the new season four new team members have stepped up to make contributions. The likes of John Oliver and Patrick Allen, though new to the games, have come in and played their part. John from Nigeria despite being over fifty years old left his feet for two slide tackles in this evening's game. Our experienced player like Jorge, Pop, Dave, Michael, Andre, Tony, and Junior were also back in action.

The energy and attitude of the team has never been better. It is exciting to coach to see all the the players so excited to play and so full of energy even after the game. We were adjusting to a new style of soccer, playing without walls, seven a side, but managed a win on our first game. Tonight we played much better strategically against a strong opponent. Although we can improve a lot, we gave our selves the opportunity to win, but missed several easy chances, including an open goal shot to tie the game in the last minute. Two moments stick out, when our goalie collided with the opponent and instead of following the ball went straight to our opponent to see if he was alright. Well done, Tony Kelley. Then after the game, new team member called for an early morning practice at 6am in order to get ready for next week. Actually though, we have a bye this week, so player will be setting their season and life goals as well as practicing for our next game october 8th.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ron Miller writes about his experience at the Homeless World Cup for Orato Magazine

This story was written by Charlotte's own Ron Miller. Ron, who was with us as part of Team USA at the HWC, wrote this for Orato, a webpage featuring FIRST PERSON, citizen journalism from around the world. We admire Ron for expressing his feelings and emotions as he chronicles here his battle out of homelessness and playing street soccer with Team USA and with Street Soccer 945.

To see the article in full visit: http://www.orato.com/node/3454

By Ronnie Miller , Brooklyn, New York 09/05/07

I'm from Brooklyn, New York. I lived there my whole life. I’m not really comfortable with telling you how I ended up on the street.

I have no experience playing soccer. I just came out there and started playing down at the Urban Ministry, and I just stuck with it. A buddy of mine was already playing soccer there, and he introduced me. I wound up joining in the practices and then I just stuck with it.

It helped me to be more of a people person, interacting with others. On the team, you meet so many other people with different backgrounds and you have to learn how to adapt to these people. The coaches there are also a great help, as far as getting things done, helping you set up interviews – right now, I got steady work and a steady place to stay, so everything has been positive. It’s been a good turn around.

Once you take a blow like that and you’re down to nothing, you gotta build your self-esteem back up. It’s all about building your confidence, with your teammates cheering you on, giving you different pointers on and off the field.

Being out on the street, I’ve seen a lot of things. There are a lot of young people that are homeless, and some that just have nothing to do with their time. If they get involved something like this and it’s positive and will build them up to be a better person, no matter what they’ve been in the past, then I think it’s very much needed.

This year, we traveled to Denmark, Copenhagen for the Homeless World Cup.

When you’re homeless, you don’t think about flying thousands of miles to somewhere else to play some soccer – that’s not the first thing that hits. It’s far fetched from the mind at that time.

We had 48 other countries out there. It’s really about trying to bring awareness about homelessness and trying to give motivation and show that you can do better with your life. For me, I felt great out there, trying to break the stereotype of what” homeless” is. We’re more than just what everybody is brought up to think.

I was representing the USA team, and I went out there and played my best. I just enjoyed the camaraderie of all the other teams, meeting other people from different places, knowing that you’re not the only one struggling out there. These guys all have good stories – they’ve turned their lives around, so all that is an inspiration to you to say you can get back on your feet.

It was a wonderful feeling just to be able to go out there – the shock didn’t hit until we came back that we just went across the world and played in a world cup. I don’t even know how to really put it. It was a great experience meeting people from different nationalities and being able to converse with them and swap stories. It was about more than just playing soccer.

When you’re out here on the street, you build your own little communities – you’re networking within the homeless community that you’re in, sometimes to get ahead.

I got my job and I got a place to stay, and if a dude that I know looked out for me, showed me where to go, how to get there, what agency does what – if he needs to come take a shower, or he’s fatigued and he needs to get some rest because he needs to go to work, then my door’s open.

I love my kids. I always got to give them a nice shout out. She’s only two and he’s one, but I have brought them to soccer practice before - and that’s my motivation right now.