Getting homeless people off the streets is a never-ending challenge for most cities. Who would have thought a game of soccer was the answer?
Yet it has been for hundreds of homeless people throughout the world, and now it's kicked off in the United States. Street Soccer USA organizes four national tournaments each year. It requires players to set three-, six-, and 12-month goals to get their lives back on track. Players who stick with it say the physical demands motivate — if not require — them to cut back on life's vices.
But it does more than improve physical health; it empowers them. They report feeling more positive and motivated to lead productive lives. One 20-year-old player said the physical, emotional, and mental demands prove to him that he can "achieve perfection in other areas of life."
The results are certainly palpable. Eight out of 25 men on one Chicago team have moved into apartments only months after they began playing. And 28 of the 36 men who play on the US's national team — there's a Homeless World Cup — have remained off the street.
Now if they could only start winning . . . not to be demanding!