Thursday, August 13, 2009

Jorger Revlorio, number 10

Jorge was abandoned at 2 yrs old. He met his mother for the first time when he was 1, but they didn't get along. Jorge acted out and spent his teens in juvenile detention in LA, after that he lived in a group home, then slept in a park, and after that he paid rent to sleep in the living room of an uncle. Now he rents his own room and is registered for classes, but can't start until he get a night job. He loves soccer and last week made the SSUSA national team. He's number 10 in our book. Help him participate in the Homeless World Cup. Be a number 10 and make donation of 10 dollars or more online right now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ethan Zohn Award for Courage Winner: Sammy Al-molhem

Sammy Almolhem was the recipient of Street Soccer’s award recognizing courage, but where he has shown the most bravery has been persevering off the field. Sectarian militias in Iraq widowed three of his sisters, kidnapped a brother, and killed some of his cousins. Almolhem, still an Iraqi citizen, served the U.S. Army as an interpreter for six years.

“I dreamed of coming to the U.S. since I was 13,” says Almolhem, now 42. He moved to the U.S. just fifty days ago.

Working as an interpreter for the U.S. Army in Bagdad put him and his family in grave danger. “I know I am going to lose my life, but these are my friends now,” he recalls thinking to himself about the decision to accept a dangerous post. Almost all the other interpreters with his unit left, rather than accept the danger.

Some of his neighbors knew he was collaborating with the U.S. military. “If I stayed another night there, I might have been killed,” he said, remembering the tough decision to move his family to Jordan and Lebanon while he lived at the base in Baghdad.

Almolhem, his wife, and his three daughters are reunited and living in Charlottesville.

After cutting his chin performing a miraculous diving save, he put his injury into perspective: “With the army we saw lots of blood,” he explained, blood dripping down his jersey. “I used to carry guys on my shoulders.”

Almolhem is receiving less support than he expected upon arrival, but says he wants to “depend on himself.”

He recently interviewed for a job at a hospital.

To Almolhem, Street Soccer seemed like a natural pastime, “most Iraqi farmers play soccer in the streets.”

Thanks to Marcus Williams, who wrote this piece (Reporter, StreetSense - Washington, D.C.)


Monday, August 10, 2009

Katalyst Coaches Award Winner: Jose Acuna

On August 2nd at the SSUSA Closing and Awards Ceremonies, Jose Acuna the coach of Street Soccer Minneapolis was honored with the Kevin Carroll Katalyst Coaches Award. Jose coached Street Soccer Minneapolis to become SSUSA Cup 2008 Champions and 2nd Place in this year's tournament. He works for Youth Link, and their team name "UP TOP." Jose is pictured here with his players.

Jose grew up in Costa Rica and explains that "soccer has been a major part of my entire life." He continues, "they say that Costa Ricans are born with a soccer ball under our arms. I never belonged to an actual team with formal training as a player, but soccer was an intricate part of daily life."

Jose belonged to various social work groups in Costa Rica and he would visit kids and adults in different settings from orphanages to nursing homes. He and he colleagues used soccer as an incentive for the youth to excel in school and their personal lives.

At Youth Link, he works with homeless youth as an Outreach Worker and has been with the organization for 15 years. As he explains SSUSA programming and the annual SSUSA Cup "creates a new lens for them [the team] to look at life through, that will hopefully continue to inspire them as they pursue their goals in life."

He further explained, "I was very honored to be the recipient of the Kevin Carroll Katalyst Award this year. The ability soccer alone has to transform lives is simply amazing. My hope is to continue this opportunity for the youth through the Homeless Soccer Cup and expand it further by by pursuing my own program. My hope is to establish an international program called "STOP THE WORLD IT'S SOCCER TIME.'' The goal is to distribute soccer balls to impoverished and war-torn communities. My belief is that despite the many adversities we may face as humans, when you are on the field the world stops and the only thing that matters is taking possession of the ball and scoring a goal. In those moments pride, joy and happiness are found, if only for the moment. And hopefully this will also begin a catalyst for change in those communities."

Jose, we salute you!