Homelessness | Where soccer becomes a work of art

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Link to Street Soccer 945 websiteCharlotte, North Carolina | Soccer for the homeless keeps gathering steam. Beginning Saturday, teams from across the United States compete on a street-soccer court in downtown Charlotte to select eight players and eight alternates for the fourth Homeless World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa, from Sept 24–30.

Charlotte’s Urban Ministry Center hosts the two-day competition, called Homeless USA Cup. The ministry’s own team, Street Soccer 945, represented the United States in the 2005 World Cup in Edinburgh (see 20 Jul 05). After 43 consecutive losses—not counting one win by forfeit—dating back to Sept 04, the side posted its first victory, 6–3, on Jul 25. According to the Street Soccer 945 Web log, “When the final whistle blew, Tony Kelley went bonkers, exclaiming in a loud World Wrestling Federation–style voice that Street Soccer were now ‘champions of the world.’ ”

The bigger aims of the weekend event and of the long-term struggles of team formation are, according to Street Soccer 945 organizer Lawrence Cann, to “create a humanizing social practice.” “Soccer,” he adds, “is really the best tool we found to do that.” More on the Charlotte team, including video, is available from local television stations News 14 Carolina and WCNC-6.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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