‘The feel of the game’ | On the streets, Charlotte participants experience football as sole force

A detail from the recently opened Art Park at the Urban Ministry Center in Charlotte. The multi-use facility serves as street-soccer pitch and amphitheater for community open-mic poetry readings. (www.communityworks945.org)

Homeless soccer programs have spread to other cities as the Charlotte group has worked to give structure and conceptual weight to its activities. It sponsored a conference preceding the 2007 US Cup with the stated aim of using soccer to create social change on a national level.

The 2008 US Cup will take place in Washington with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, National Coalition for the Homeless and Street Sense newspaper as sponsors. Lawrence Cann hopes to be able to reserve two spots for women on the U.S. team that travels to Melbourne for the Homeless World Cup 2008.

In the meantime, the Charlotte program continues as a collaborative idea that seeks to offer social interaction for everyone involved. The community aspect became clear in the conception and building of the Urban Ministry Center Art Park, directed by students in an “Art and Activism” class at the University of North Carolina–Charlotte. Recycled tires serve as benches at the Tryon Street facility. Lockers were donated to help meet storage needs for the center’s itinerant clients.

The park’s playing surface, featuring colorful spray-painted squares of art and poetry, demonstrates the flush of creativity inspired by the shared work. Scythe Fewell has transferred his poem “I Will Not Lose.” Beverly Cowan contributes “I Believe,” beginning, “I believe that change is possible …”

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