Tuesday, July 14, 2009

WHO WE ARE: Contender #7- Street Soccer 945 Charlotte, NC

In 2009 the women in Charlotte are proving they will be a force at the Street Soccer USA Cup too! Street Soccer 945, organized out of the Urban Ministry Center, has three women involved and two of them, Ebony and Nori, have attended more practices than any other team members over the last 9 months. Ebony is pictured first and Nori below.

Ebony was born in 1987 in Durham, NC. She is a tough girl, naturally a right fullback who tackles hard. Soccer is her routine and lifeline. She never misses a practice and even makes time to come to almost every one of the Street Soccer Stars (former SSUSA National Team members and formerly homeless players) games to cheer the team on. She broke through this month in the job market and started work full time after completing a Youth Job Connection program at Goodwill. Ebony has been in and out of hotels, shelters and abandoned apartments for more than two years. She gets her first paycheck this Friday and hopes to be housed just before the team hits the road to Washington, DC. She met Nori about a year and a half ago.

Nori is older, 29. Nori has been homeless for 11 years. She graduated from East Meck High School in Charlotte in 1998, she has been on the street almost ever since. She is vocal and a strong personality that is not afraid to hold the team to a standard of respecting each other and helping out with all aspects of the team, including handling dirty laundry. She is the first to help out and the first to tell others to help out too!

They both started playing soccer 11 months ago. Nori says "its something to do to keep me focused and not standing around realizing how homeless I am." Nori has lost over 32 pounds since the beginning of the year. When she first started she couldn't jog the team's 5 lap warmup around the small track at the gym practice facility. Now she can run all 5 and push through a few more. Ebony is our unquestioned defensive standout. You will see both of these awesome women in DC in July.

The other news of out of Charlotte is the continued roll program graduates play. Mentioned earlier was the Street Soccer Stars team of program graduates who still compete in local leagues in Charlotte. Two of these graduates have taken their commitment to the program a step further.
Ray Isaac, Homeless World Cup Team 2005 and Tim Cummins, Homeless World Cup Team 2008 have moved into a coaching roll for Street Soccer 945. Ray is mostly a team manager, making sure everyone is dressed in proper uniform and has a drink and a snack before the game. He also monitors substitutions by seeing who is into the game with a positive attitude and who works well together. Ray only allows positive cheering. Tim is the tactical coach, teaching skill and positioning and a loud voice calling for players to pick up a person on defense and to pass the ball. Both of these guys have set as a goal to be leaders and coaches for the Charlotte program. They both are doing it in their own way. Tim only shows up for games and is an example of someone who has moved on past the program in a healthy way. He's always dirty from a full days work when he pops in and cheers the team up with his constant talking and smiles. Ray is now an employee of the Urban Ministry Center and runs the art room. He mentors young men and women who need a positive male role model. He counsels folks and encourages everyone and sees the best in them, but holds them to a standard of respect and teamwork. Big Cheers for these two excellent leaders and program graduates. (Ray on the left, Tim on the right in the picture). Stay tuned for a local television news story on the Charlotte team coming next week. To learn more about the Charlotte team visit www.urbanministrycenter.org.

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