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!

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