Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WHO WE ARE: Contender #8- Jovenes, Inc. of Los Angeles

In 2008, Jovenes, Inc. started a street soccer program which provides outreach to at-risk and homeless youth in the Los Angeles community, and promotes a healthy lifestyle. The Street Soccer LA Program promotes discipline, goal setting, and team building through sports, and offers an innovative method to help youth gain control of their lives.

Last year Jovenes, Inc. represented Los Angeles in the 2008 Street Soccer USA Cup. The team placed second, and two members traveled to Melbourne, Australia this past December to play on the US National Team in the 2008 Homeless World Cup.

In 2009 the team is coached by former player, Johnny Figueroa. Johnny spent time in foster care and group homes before going it on his own and sleeping on the street. According to Johnny, soccer is what kept him going everyday. While staying at a Jovenes Inc transitional housing site where the team is based, he joined the soccer team.

After being an obvious selection for the 2008 Homeless World Cup, coach Andrea Marchetti told Johnny he could not participate unless he pursued his educational seriously. Johnny did just that and traveled with the time to Melbourne this past December.

At the Homeless World Cup, Johnny was chosen as a Nike Fair Player Award winner, one of only four in the entire tournament to win the an award. When we got back to LA, he learned that his application for a scholarship to community college had been accepted. In addition, he earned a scholarship to study in Italy.

Johnny now counsels other youth of his age through the street soccer program as he continue to pursue his college degree.

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