Program Director: Peter Fink
Organization: Urban Ministry Center
About the Program
In 2004, the Urban Ministry Center launched the first street soccer program of its kind in the United States. The Urban Ministry is an interfaith organization that serves the homeless and impoverished in Charlotte, NC with love, compassion, and tangible aid. First and foremost the UMC is a soup kitchen serving lunch 365 days a year in addition to other emergency services. The soccer is part of an innovative community building program called Community Works 945. The soccer team first called themselves Art Works Football Club (now Street Soccer 945), named after the agency's already exisitng art program. The team was founded by SSUSA CEO, Lawrence Cann based on the simple mission to use soccer to achieve social integration for its players who, as homeless individuals, found themselves relegated to the margins of society.
Lawrence believed healthy living, a constructive use of leisure time, a community of supportive teammates, a personal relationship with people who can help you achieve your goals- these were the ingredients to anyone's well being. Art Works FC provided these ingredients to the people who need them most. As a byproduct of empowering its players through the innovative use of soccer, Art Works FC raised awareness about homelessness in communties that otherwise feel disconnected from the issue. In the program's first year it saw all eight chronically homeless individuals move off the street and into permanent housing, and moreover each player addressed their underlying obstacles to why they were on the street to begin with. They all cited the newly formed soccer program as the main reason they had been able to move off the street. The program represented the USA at the Homeless World Cup in 2005, 2006, and 2007. The program hosted the first Street Soccer USA Cup in Charlotte in 2006 as well as the USA National Organizing Conference in 2007.
The program has different teams: Street Soccer 945 competes in local amateur leagues year round and practices two and even three times weekly. The Street Soccer Stars are a team of program graduates that play in adult leagues and challenge matches with universities and clubs in the region.
In its first year the program moved all of its team members off the street. Team members in 2006 and 2007 followed them and all but three are now in permanent housing.
In The Media
Paid for by Street Soccer USA
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