Friday, November 21, 2008

Street Soccer 945 of Charlotte: Coach's Update

Coach Rob Cann of Street Soccer 945 in Charlotte, NC made sent in the following report on his team:

Street Soccer 945, Charlotte, NC’s Street Soccer program continues to thrive in fall 2008.
Pictured here are team members Ron Miller, Ebony Wright, Devin, US National Tim Cummins, volunteer Roth Scott, Nori Emerson, Elmer Nunez, Hezakiah Washington, volunteer Curtis Gardner, high school students and Charlotte United FC players and now SS945 volunteers Connor and PJ, Santonio William, Juan Padilla, Craig Holley, Jorge Lopez, Toney Kelley. (Hoover and Dwayne missed us last night) We have seen an average of 10 players per practice over the fall and the re-emergence of women to the team. Ebony Wright and Nori Emerson have rarely missed a practice over the last 3 months while sleeping in an abandoned apartment complex. The pair accompanied the team to Washington and Lee as part of the Homelessness and Hunger awareness Week at the University where they shared their experiences with students of living on the street. Nori is working part time and applying to get back in school to finish her associates degree in nursing, while Ebony is working on her GED at CPCC. She was recently hired to work over the winter for the Salvation Army collecting donations as a bell ringer. Nori says “I've never kicked a ball before playing with street soccer, but this keeps me focused and interacting with others who are trying to improve their situation, plus during practice and games I can forget about that I have nowhere to sleep or nowhere to eat. It keeps me sane right now and we all need that.”

Devin another new team member who has just been to 2 practices and played in his first game last night. He commented "We are a different breed of homeless; we are trying to do something with our lives.”

Another new addition this fall is Juan Padilla, a native of Honduras. Juan is an excellent forward who is living at the Men's Shelter. He has no family in the USA. Only 18, he started drinking regularly with a group of other unemployed immigrants. "Soccer," he said, "was better way to spend his time." Juan is due to set his goals with us next week.

We have also seen a surge of volunteers join our community. Curtis Garden and Penny Mann have been coming to training sessions while Roth Scott has been coming to games and helped coach last night. Two high school students mentioned before and also Chris Goodnight.

A noteworthy development has been that players are getting on other players for skipping practice and for having lame excuses. The team ratted out Justin for smoking weed before last night's game; he was not allowed to participate. Tony Kelley had 2 left footed well placed low blasts for goals last night and Coach Cann had a modest hat trick! Tim our national team player was a beast in goal, giving up just 5 goals in 2 games, which is good for us. He has made some great saves that have kept us in both matches. Craig kept his temper in check last night and helped a guy up after fouling him.

On a final note, while our team is moving forward in life as a unit, one player is faltering.

I could write for hours about it, but the short version is he found a place to stay after he left the half way house: another recovery house with 3 others, but nothing established, no rules. On game day, he got his green card receipt for the biometrics. He was excited to play soccer now that he had a place to stay (which we know is usually backwards thinking, he should have been playing the whole time) but nonetheless, the gym was closed yesterday so the team went for a run through uptown and he joined in, completing a long run probably 3 miles or so. He was excited about the game tonight until crack got him. He was in the building ready to play early, he just came back not too long ago, hyper, cursing, the usual behavior of someone drunk and on drugs. I told him while he was grinding against the wall that he wasn’t playing tonight. He was upset of course, bringing attention to himself in the art room knocking boards over, he left my office and was outside and came back. It went on like this for a half hour. The grand finale is that he walked out kicked and dented the van and then threw a rock at the soccer court and dented a car. It hurts. You want to see him get through this; it hurts to see.

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