The Beautiful Game series explores how soccer makes a difference around the globe.
As you watch the Euros and CONCACAF qualifying there are those in your community using the galvanizing force that is the game of soccer to have an impact on people’s lives who need it. Please help them.
There is yet another major Cup being battled for this summer and it’s not in Warsaw or London. The Street Soccer US Cup is July 27th-July 29th aimed at ending homelessness.
Below is a profile on Up Top from Minneapolis who will challenge to hoist the Cup in a little more than a month.
This profile contribute by friend of TSG Chandrima Chatterjee.
“Up Top” Street Soccer Minneapolis
I set the bar high walking into a Street Soccer Minneapolis practice and they didn’t disappoint me.
After all, these were the 2011 Street Soccer USA Cup reigning champions, had just come off a win at the Kevin Polk Midwest Memorial Cup and had captured my heart years ago at the Homeless World Cup in 2010, in which 4 of their players were selected to represent the USA.
2010 was also the year I met their generous coach Jose Acuna who exudes a sort of fatherly kindness towards his players and makes the game fun in a way that is rare to witness.
The practice was conducted in a free-flowing, natural style, in which Jose and his three assistant coaches, all of whom were former players for the team, managed a group of highly eager and energetic guys. I brought a friend along too, the director of Yuwa, another soccer outreach program that functions in India using soccer as a tool to empower young girls and prevent childhood marriage and child trafficking, and he quickly noted that Jose’s easy-going style of leadership was working well for the group. That they respect and admire him was apparent from the get-go. After a seriously high-paced gymnasium practice that ended close to midnight, I sat down with two of their players…
Magarsa – “The first reason to play for me is that it is good for my body, it’s healthy!”
Magarsa started playing soccer about five years ago and has been practicing with “Up Top” for the past two years. He’s really proud of his and his team’s accomplishments in a tournament in Michigan earlier this year. Primarily he enjoys the game, proving his soccer skills by competing and traveling to different areas of the country. He originally came to the US with his family 9 years ago to seek a better life than what they had in their homeland in Kenya. Magarsa is doing really well with Street Soccer Minneapolis – he’s constantly striving to build his skill set and his goal is to train hard to become an assistant coach for Jose’s group. Good luck to you Magarsa! We’ll be watching and rooting for you!
Abdul Kadir started with “Up Top” Street Soccer Minneapolis towards the end of 2010. He’d heard about it through a friend and clearly enjoys the game – he was one of the liveliest players at practice. He credits Jose Acuna, the head coach and director, with much of what he’s attained through the program, including a good attitude in life, learning about the American culture, and good behavior in general. “Jose is what makes the program special.” Abdul also came to the US from Kenya with his family. Abdul’s technique and attitude have already earned him a coaching position at a local high school. He is starting college in August with an interest in international relations. He played with the team that won the Kevin Polk Midwest Memorial Cup this spring and was on last year’s Street Soccer USA National winning team as well.
Keep going Abdul! Aim high!
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