Street Soccer Philadelphia
Follow the team on Twitter:Follow @StreetSoccerPHL
Fan Club: Join HERE
StreetSoccerPhilly Director: Chandrima Chatterjee
StreetSoccerPhilly Coaches: John Salvucci, Matt Kaufman, Evan Anderson
StreetSoccerPhilly Homeless Outreach Associate: Justina Shaw
StreetSoccerPhilly Advisory Board: (still in the making, promise an announcement next month)
Partner Agency: the Bethesda Project
Program Sponsors and Partners: Street Soccer USA, OneLoveFC, Opportunities-PA,
Eurosport, US Soccer Foundation, EPYSA, PennSoccer, Grassroot Soccer, Homeless World Cup Foundation
About the ProgramWe are the Philadelphia chapter of the Street Soccer USA program. Our vision is to improve the lives of the homeless and strengthen communities in and around Philadelphia through sport for social change and health initiatives. We believe that everyone deserves the liberty to better their life, to change their life, to live a healthy life. Our motto is "I Play for Liberty!"
Three years of travel, volunteering and professional development went into preparations before I decided the time was right to return to Philadelphia and help create a Street Soccer USA program here. As painful as some images of homelessness are, just as strong are the uplifting stories of courage that I've witnessed as people lift themselves out of the starkest of conditions to pursue new lives. It is because of this belief in the strength and instinctive drive to survive within the human spirit, that I decided to do something about it where I spent most of my adult life.
I've long witnessed the treatment that homeless men and women living on the streets of my Philly neighborhood receive from my neighbors and it is not pretty. The "kindest" of neighbors become absolutely enraged by the sight of homelessness near their homes, mostly out of fear and being uninformed of how to approach homelessness from an empathetic point of view. For example, instead of calling a streets outreach service, they'll simply call the police who then temporarily disperse the crowds, that just relocate and return to the same spot days later. In my own neighborhood, we have a sort of makeshift homeless encampment in the nearby parks. There simply is not enough shelter space for everyone - Philly has approximately 4000 homeless people on a single day. In 2005, the Philadelphia City Office of Emergency Shelter and Services served 14,986 homeless people. However, there is a growing movement in the city to dissolve outdoor outreach programs on the premise that the homeless need to be served food and other services in an indoor facility to promote an air of dignity and decency. As thoughtful as that sounds, it is also an unrealistic vision to build such indoor spaces and banning these programs will ultimately result in more hunger and poverty on the streets. It's quite clear that there is an unstated motivation to hide homelessness and whisk it under the rug, out of sight out of mind. It feels like a breakdown in community values. Street Soccer Philadelphia therefore sought to partner with a shelter group that embodies compassion and fearless courage to combat homelessness to help rebuild individual lives and communities. We sought out a partner who can help us provide a sense of belonging and family to those in need. And we have found that with The Bethesda Project.
The Bethesda Project welcomes homeless and formerly homeless men and women into their family and provides a continuum of care including shelter, permanent supportive housing, case management services, and community activities to meet people “where they are” and help each individual reach his or her highest level of self-sufficiency. They offer our family members the opportunity to thrive in a community setting with a network of peers who are seeking support as they recover from homelessness, addiction, and/or mental illness. More than 30 years since their humble beginning, Bethesda Project remains committed to their initial calling — to find and care for the abandoned poor and to be family with those who have none. The Bethesda Project serves more than 7,000 homeless and formerly homeless men and women each year.
Our sponsors from far and near are behind us all the way and it truly has been magical watching the two distinct worlds of soccer community and homelessness outreach services merge to form this new community soccer outreach program. We plan to improve our players' lives, we plan to educate the public on homelessness and we plan to strengthen the Philadelphia community. Join us!