Monday, February 23, 2009

Don't Mess with Texas

Street Soccer Austin battled the visiting squad from Fort Worth in the first ever meeting between the two Texas Street Soccer programs. In Fort Worth Carla and Warren have added a love of soccer to their love of people. Carla is among other things a barrel racer on horseback, Warren, a retired police officers. Their players a mixture of immigrants and young men living on the street. The Fort Worth team emphasizes community, goal setting, and the importance of a spiritual life.

Tad Christie, the national team star from Sabelyn Pussman's Austin team was absent from the contest. Tad entered beautician school which he hopes will supplement his income as a street soccer star--or vice versa! In all seriousness Tad is doing great and really has entered beautician school.

Coach Craig combined with Sabelyn and a group of new recruits from the ARCH in Austin to give the Fort Worth team a good game, but in the end the visitors left with bragging rights. While Austin was calling for a rematch, Fort Worth sent a message to the other teams around the US---C U N DC!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New York, New York

The picture above includes the majority of participants in last night's Street Soccer NYC practice. The most impressive thing about these smiles is that I took the photo after practice, immediately following a suicide sprint. One player, Willy, said it was the first time he had run in three years!

The practice took place in the gym at HELP USA's Supportive employment center on Ward's Island. Three players, not counting Patti who showed up late, Omar, Jessica, and Calvin, participated from the SEC. The other seven players came over with staff member Greg Brockington from HELP USA's Next Step program. They included Rolando, Abraham, Willy, Albert, Jose, Woods, and Donald.

Volunteers, coaches Chris Murray, Tyler Brown and I led us in a warm up and game of head catch to start practice off. Then we had a brief word with the team to explain the program's intention: Street Soccer NYC is about doing something positive with your free time, it's about building an inclusive community focused on the future. As membership builds we will join a local league to compete in. This summer we will create the New York team that travels to the Street Soccer USA Cup in Washington, D.C. Once you come to five practices, you will sit down with the coaches to set 3, 6, and 12 month goals for yourself. The coaches and volunteers will go through the same process. Most of the work rests with you, but knowing what you want to achieve we will work with you to help you achieve it.

With that as the preface, we began to play. Abraham who was shooting baskets with his feet last week, to no one's surprise was a clear standout. Calvin from the SEC on the other hand, kept very low key until the games began and before we knew it he was leading all scorers with 4 goals.

We look forward to being in touch as the story of the team unfolds and if you are not already a member join the HELP USA Facebook page to follow news on Street Soccer NYC.

Next practice is Tuesday at 8:30pm. As we build membership, volunteers, and find alternative times, we will increase practices.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Look HOOS Playing Soccer!

Trigg Brown, pictured in the center in orange, together with Garret Trent, a fellow University of Virginia undergrad, have partnered with HOPE, a day shelter for the homeless in Charlottesville, VA run by Josh Bare. Their first volunteer was player from the UVA men's soccer team! Walker Redd was the star of the first practice and the first player to join the squad, pictured 2nd from center.

Both Street Soccer USA and the Hoos were selected as participants in the Clinton Global Initiative University in Austin, Texas. More on that coming up!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

FRONT PAGE NEWS!: Chicago Tribunes profiles Chicago squad--photos by Scott Strazzante

Link to the front page story from the story of Jason Holme's team at Hesed House homeless shelter in Chicago.

Link here for a selection of Scott Strazzante photos from the Chicago Tribune online.

A special thanks to


Kenneth Cole, Maria Cuomo-Cole, Representatives Nita Lowey and Ed Mackey, Jose Garcia and Michael Kosmides of Teatro Goldoni, Ed Foster Simeon, president of the US Soccer Foundation, Frank from the DC Street Soccer Team, Rick Allen and Jack Davies, producers of Kicking It, Susan Koch, director of Kicking It, Ben Olson and Clyde Simms of DC United, Lawrence Cann, Street Soccer Chief, and Mark Ein, founder and owner of the Washington Kastles among many others who came out to support Street Soccer USA and kick-off the countdown to this Summer's Street Soccer USA Cup, July 30-August 2nd in Washington DC.

US Soccer Foundation/Eurosport Break World Record!

As a way to raise awareness about its Passback Program (an initiative to collect new and gently used soccer equipment and distribute it to those in need) and give children in economically disadvantaged areas access to proper soccer equipment, the U.S. Soccer Foundation broke the World Record for Longest Chain of Shoes at the 2009 NSCAA Convention held in St. Louis, MO on January 14 – 18 -- stringing together 11,904 shoes.

The shoes were on display at the America's Center Convention Complex on January 15 - 17 where volunteers tied together all of the donated cleats. At the end of the weekend, all of the shoes and cleats were distributed to members of the Foundation’s Urban Soccer Collaborative ( and to local St. Louis organizations in need.

A ceremony was held at 2:00 PM on Saturday, January 17th at the Convention Center to tie the last 5 pairs of cleats and to celebrate the breaking of the World Record. The following representatives had the honor of tying the last pairs of cleats:

Lawrence Cann, Passback Recipient, Street Soccer USA
Alex Kehm, Passback Star
Sarah Pickens, Passback Program, U.S. Soccer Foundation
Durward Williams (Passback Program, Eurosport)
Rudy Zimmermann (NSCAA)

The Foundation received support from Eurosport, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and major athletic apparel companies to collect shoes and soccer cleats to break the previous record of 10,500. Passback Stars (individuals who collect and distribute soccer equipment within their local community) and youth soccer clubs also set up collections of their own to join the effort.

“Through this effort our Passback Stars and supporters can have fun while also leaving a positive footprint in St. Louis by giving local children the proper equipment they need to play soccer.” said Sarah Pickens, Community Outreach and Development Coordinator of the U.S. Soccer Foundation.

Ways to get involved:
1) Donate your shoes.
Box up and send all shoes to the following address:
Attn: Steve Fear
431 US HWY 70-A East
Hillsborough, NC 27278
**Please note (on the outside of the boxes) the number of cleats that are within each box.

2) Visit to donate $10 to buy a pair of shoes for a child in need.

3) Spread the word! Join our Facebook Group at:

The text below comes from Rob Cann who leads Street Soccer 945 out of the Urban Ministry Center, the nations first soccer program for the homeless. In it's fifth year, SS945 has expanded to two years and going strong. Rob also co-coached the national team last year. Hoover, whose poem is featured below, is at the center of the team shot above surrounded by his teammates.

Home Field Advantage

The harsh realities of winter are here in Charlotte with the first cold front of the new year setting firmly in earlier this week. Weather forecasts predicted that overnight lows on Thursday night would be in the teens and the Urban Ministry Center prepared to activate its cold weather policy. The temperature indeed dropped as expected Thursday afternoon and the line for Room in the Inn, a program where local churches host our homeless neighbors each night of the winter season, began to grow and grow. Sleeping on the sidewalk outside the center gates was not an option for even the roughest of sleepers.

As I looked out the window from my office and saw the mass of people lined up outside braving the weather and hoping to get a bed with Room in the Inn, I couldn’t help but be astonished as I heard chanting in the office next to me and turned to see 13 anxious soccer players tucking their jerseys in and beginning to loosen up for a critical pair of outdoor league matches at 8pm and 9pm. The weather was the last thing on their mind and as Hoover flowed out the lines to the new song he wrote,

Its cold outside and I have nowhere to run to
Gotta make a fire in the woods and pray it don’t burn you
As a young kid I did things I wont supposed to
Wrong turn here and there, I made a wrong move

Its cold outside and I have nowhere to run to
Gotta make a fire in the woods and pray it don’t burn you

I sadly felt confident that tonight we had home field advantage because our team is all too familiar with being outside during this time of year. Everyone who said they were going to be there tonight was present and the three week layoff from games over the holiday had us hungry for action.

Tonights team was a mix of old and new faces and since we had been rained out the week before and the holiday and new field construction postponed our games before that we knew going into the game that positioning and communication were going to be the keys.
The game marked the return of Osman Mohammed, a 40 year old Sudanese native that since helping Street Soccer 945 build our Art Park court in 2007, spent much of 2008 in Alabama defending his right to stay in America even though his work permit was out of date. He has been granted legal status here and is waiting on his paperwork to come through in the mail and is meanwhile staying in the Charlotte Emergency Winter Shelter. Also to with tonights team was Pablo, a member of Street Soccer 945 at this years Street Soccer USA Cup. Pablo has been working steadily until he separated his shoulder on the job. He has filed for workman compensation, but is nervous that now he is healthy that he won’t be able to get his position back due to the slowing down of construction work in the city. The last person to note that was with us tonight is Kimtoya Moore. Kim has just aged out of foster care and is on the street. She met 2005 World Cup Team Member and now assistant art director Ray-Ray and he encouraged her to play with the team while she sorted out what she was going to do next. She said that Ray gave her the friendship and positive encouragement that she needed to come out of her shell and play with the team and to seek the help she needs to get into housing and back into school. These types of relationships formed are what being on a team is about and proves importance of the mentorship role that graduates of the program can play in engaging new players. Another job well done by Ray. The rest of the team was rounded out with volunteer coach Curtis, Kerry, Capone, Devin, Jihad, Elmer, Toney, Ray, Hoover, volunteer Chris Goodnight, Homeless World Cup keeper Tim Cummins, and coach Rob.

The first game was tight and a lapse at the end of the first half where we lost positioning led us to giving up 3 goals and be down 3 scores to 1. We were able to get one back when coach Rob inserted himself in the game, but minutes later a 4th goals was conceded on a defensive lapse that left Curtis and Tim to defend 4 of our opponents. Elmer Nunez was the star of game one slicing through opponents and setting up Toney Kelley on several opportunities that just missed. A determined Elmer would not be denied as he deposited 2 late goals to give SS-945 a well earned tie.

The coaches reinforced communication and tighter passing as keys to game number 2, but before we could get any further the second game was being whistled to start. We had an army of substitutions and everyone was still eager to play. The team came out much sharper in the second came spreading the field and Osman playing in the middle of the park was a key in the first half, playing one and two touch, receiving passes from the backs and spreading the ball wide to our forwards Toney and Elmer. We took an early 2 goal lead and kept our defensive integrity with Tim being vocal for everyone to mark up and calling out names and numbers. Simple quick passes continued to be our method, and then the flood gates opened as Toney, who initially like Elmer was taking his defenders on one-on-one, slotted a pass to a wide open Elmer who smashed our 4th goal into the back of the net. We walked off in joy to a 7-5 victory after conceding two late goals as new players got more game time experience in the waning moments.

Street Soccer 945 is now sitting in a tie for 4th place in our league of 11 teams.

A big thanks to Brixx Pizza for supporting our players with food after all our games. You guys are awesome!