Homeless Street Soccer in D.C.

John E. DeFreitas | 8/2/2010, 1:36 p.m.
During the opening ceremony on Fri., July 30, the D.C. team enters Kastles Stadium...
Area dignitaries who included Mayor Adrian Fenty, Sheila Johnson, and Ted Leonsis take part in the ceremonial kick to get the tournament started at Kastles Stadium in Northwest on Fri., July 30. Photo by John E. DeFreitas

During the opening ceremony on Fri., July 30, the D.C. team enters Kastles Stadium at 10th and H Streets in Northwest. The District host team played their first game in the tournament against the 2009 San Francisco champions. The D.C. team won, 3-1.Photo by John E. DeFreitas
Javier Gomez (Red) who represented the District of Columbia takes a shot against Jaime Ovevedo of San Francisco during the first game of the tournament at Kastles Stadium in Northwest on Fri., July 30. Photo by John E. DeFreitas.

The National Street Soccer 2010 (SSUSA) competition made its final stop in Washington D.C. The Leonsis Foundation hosted the competition. On Friday,July 30th at 5pm, 23 teams based at social service centers from coast to coast competed for a national championship in street soccer, a fast paced 4 vs. 4 style game. The games were played at the Washington Kastles stadium on 10th and H Street and finish Sunday.On Friday,July 30th the activities begun with opening ceremonies, parade of teams, welcome remarks from Mayor Adrian Fenty followed by opening matches.

Last weekend 2010 championships helped to select a representative team from the USA to participate in the 2010 World Cup Homeless Championships in Rio, Brazil September 19-26th.
23 teams, from 20 cities, a samba band, 200 people striving to overcome homelessness, and a lot of people there to cheer them on . . . that was the Street Soccer USA Cup., Russia defeated San Francisco 6-3 to win the 2010 championship trophy.

New to the Street Soccer USA program this year, the Lady Salamanders is the first women's team that will represent the USA in the 2010 Homeless World Cup. After the Street Soccer USA Cup, eight women will be chosen to be part of the Lady Salamanders and represent the United States at the Homeless world Cup. The Homeless World cup is an international street soccer tournament this year featuring 16 women's programs among the teams from 64 different nations.

The Lady Salamander shave been established by Sheila Johnson, entrepreneur and Washington Mystics owner, Sheila is dedicated sport for social change advocate. In 2009, Street Soccer USA just had one woman to the Homeless World Cup. That participant, Ebony Wright of Charlotte, encourages the women's initiative.

"Being the only girl was tough, real tough. I think more of us would get involved, bond together, and try to improve ourselves if we had our own team. The first all-women team is an awesome idea. It's going to mean a lot." After three years of homelessness, Ebony joined the SSUSA program and committed to her goals, which have included finding work and moving into an apartment.
Goal of homeless soccer players is to have a chance to start over