Submitted By eointosullivan
Below is a condensed version of the proposal I put together for the homeless soccer program. This was presented to the board of St. Francis Xavier Mission for their review.
Xavier Shelter Soccer Program
“I don’t want to say it’s a return to being normal, but it makes me feel like myself again. Two weeks ago, that was, like, the first time in a while that I forgot. I forgot where I was and what was going on.”
Chris Lodgson of Ward Island’s soccer team speaking with the New York Times.
Building the selfrespect and the confidence to stand on one’s own two feet again is a less tangible benefit than providing food and shelter. However, the role of sport continues to grow as a way of engaging homeless people in positive activity. Homeless soccer programs have been very successful in raising awareness of homeless issues and improving the image of homeless people to the general public. Each week at Chelsea Piers, a homeless team from Ward’s Island lines up against different business sponsored teams in the city, facing Bloomberg employees one week, Goldman Sachs the next. The opportunities to reintegrate into society are clearly visible. This growing awareness and recognition of outreach work in the community leads to new partnerships and opportunities, which in turn make a difference in the lives of homeless individuals. The programs give players new leases on life and improve their social relations. Soccer programs can allow the homeless to transcend stereotypes and feel like themselves again. Building mutual respect through team sports can draw marginalized individuals back into society. It provides a safe place to improve socialization skills and enter an environment of cooperation. Sports related goals also contribute to overall health and wellness due in part to improved dietary planning, improved mental condition and reduced substance abuse. Ultimately, homeless participants acquire the skills and resources necessary to rehabilitate themselves and reintegrate themselves into their communities, a benefit to all those who are involved.
NY Coed Soccer and Urban Soccer: Both of these organizations have offered jerseys and to reach out to their members for equipment. www.nycoedsoccer.com ww.urbansoccer.com , w