Much like last week’s post on Soccer in America, we will also explore the power of The Beautiful Game to make a difference around the world.
One of the reasons I love soccer, much like running, is that it is a simple activity that can be played virtually anywhere with just one piece of “equipment.” Seventy yards of grass, two frames and some chalk are nice, but not necessary. Eleven on a side can produce an elegant symphony of movement, but so can “one v. one” and a spot on a wall. Beyond its simplicity, soccer combines the important attributes of creativity, teamwork and structure that transcend the game on the pitch (or vacant lot) and can impact lives.
I was reminded of these sentiments when I came across an ESPN.com article on the Street Soccer USA tournament coming up next week. For those not familiar, Street Soccer USA is an American organization whose mission is soccer for social change. From the SSUSA’s website: “Through our 16-city league we aim to get homeless men, women, and youth off the streets, ‘scoring goals on the field, and achieving their goals in life.”
I first learned of the existence and impact of “homeless soccer” a couple of years ago through the ESPN documentary Kicking It. This well crafted film follows a number of homeless individuals from different countries on their road to the 2006 Homeless World Cup in South Africa. (If you haven’t see it, track it down; below is the trailer.) Street Soccer USA is the US partner of the Homeless World Cup, an annual international football tournament that provides the opportunity for people who are homeless “to represent their country and change their lives forever.”
The “homeless soccer” movement has now reached over 60 countries where it impacts countless lives. Such is the power of soccer.
At its most fundamental level, soccer is the beautiful game, and it has nothing to do with style on the pitch.