NEW YORK--()--The Street Soccer USA National Team will be playing in the 10th Homeless World Cup, taking place over eight days on October 6th-October 14th in Zocalo Square in Mexico City. The Homeless World Cup is an international street soccer tournament uniting 48 nations with sports for development programs that use soccer to help improve the lives of the homeless.
“It’s tough to try and do it all yourself”
“The outcomes we have seen through the Street Soccer USA program never cease to amaze me,” said Lawrence Cann, founder and CEO of Street Soccer. “We always hope that the takeaway from this event is more than just great soccer and shows fans that developing sports in America goes hand in hand with improving blighted communities and achieving social outcomes.”
Street Soccer USA and its umbrella organization, HELP USA, use team sports to help adults and youths overcome poverty and homelessness. Players commit to change their lives by setting three-, six-, and 12-month personal goals. The 16 men and women representing the United States were a part of the 230 athletes who competed in the Street Soccer USA National Cup. On an annual basis more than 75% of participants in the Cup will achieve outcomes in housing placement, employment, further education and mental health/substance abuse treatment.
“Street soccer is an important tool that builds not only self-esteem and physical strength, but helps shelter residents recognize the value in committing to a project and seeing it through,” said New York City Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond. “The life skills shelter men and women learn on the field translate off the field and help make them more effective as they strive towards employment and housing.”
The US Men's and Women's teams were selected at the Street Soccer USA National Cup presented by Kappa-USA in New York City's Times Square in July 2012. Players were selected from nine of the 20 different Street Soccer USA programs across the country. The team was selected based on the players’ accomplishments off the field, sportsmanship on and off the field, and the ability to use their experience to become an ambassador for the SSUSA program.
Donny Nicholson is one team member who saw his life dramatically improve since joining Street Soccer USA. Nicholson is a veteran of the United States Air Force who became homeless and disconnected after battling depression. He is the captain of the Street Soccer New York Team. “I never thought a year ago that I would be employed and enjoying playing on a team,” he said. “I just didn’t believe I could make it outside the shelter. This soccer team has changed everything. Now I know I can achieve the goals I set.”
Stephanie Mueller, one of the standout players from the Minnesota championship team in the Street Soccer USA tournament, hopes to spread the positive change she achieved with the program to others. After problems at home forced her to move out on her own, she used the soccer team to lift herself up. Since joining the team she now works full-time at a nursing home and is saving up money for her own apartment. "It’s tough to try and do it all yourself,” Mueller said. “With the guidance of my coaches I am making progress and I hope I can take what I've learned and share it with others after we compete in Mexico."
The team will be coached by two standout program leaders in the Street Soccer USA network of teams. Pete Fink from Charlotte, NC will coach the men's team and Otto Rodriguez from the SSUSA Chicago program will coach the women's team- the Lady Salamander's named after founder sponsor Sheila Johnson.
The 2012 US Homeless World Cup Men’s team is being sponsored by Kappa USA, with the Sheila Johnson Foundation sponsoring the women’s team.
About Street Soccer USA
Street Soccer USA is a national league of sport for social change programs in 20 cities across the country where teams train and compete in local leagues and work through a special curriculum of life and job skills. Street Soccer USA uses team sports to help adults and youths overcome poverty and homelessness. Players commit to change their lives by setting three-, six-, and 12-month personal goals. By creating a team structure that is fun, positive, and universal, it provides participants with a family-like support group that helps build relationships of trust and stability. Players are challenged by their own personal motives and team expectations to accomplish their goals, helping to build character, confidence, and hope.
About Help USA
HELP USA is the leading national developer of housing and provider of jobs and services for homeless and at risk populations in the country, including families, veterans and victims of domestic violence. HELP has served more than 280,000 people since it was founded in 1986 and today serves more than 12,000 each year at 30 residences across the country. To date, HELP has developed more than 2,500 units of housing including transitional and permanent supportive service programs.
About Homeless World Cup
The Homeless World Cup was founded by Mel Young from Scotland and Harald Schmied from Austria, who came up with the idea at a conference on homelessness, in Cape Town in 2001. They both believed that it was possible to “change the lives of homeless people through football” and two years later in 2003, the first Homeless World Cup tournament took place in Graz in Austria.
The tournament also celebrates the year-round work of the organization and creates an opportunity for players to represent their country and meet and build relationships with homeless people from other countries. In all cities where the tournament is held, people who are homeless report improved relations with the public.
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