At Street Soccer Seattle we are committed to improving our soccer based program to empower the homeless in Seattle and beyond. We are happy to work with others who share the same goals as us, such as our friends at England’s Homeless FA.
At the end of last year, during personal vacation in Europe, I attended the Homeless FA’s International Street Football Festival in Manchester, England. It was an amazing opportunity to collaborate and learn from how the English program empowers their players and to network with coaches from England, the Netherlands, Mexico, Portugal, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Here is a little recap of what I got to experience in Manchester:
Throughout the week, I spent a lot of my time sharing stories and experiences about homelessness and street soccer programs. Even though I see it through our players in Seattle, it is always extremely motivating to hear about how players are turning their lives around through street soccer. Furthermore, it was a great opportunity to network with coaches and mentors from England, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, sharing how we each bring success in our programs and identifying some ways we can be even more successful in Seattle. Weather it is in the Americas, Europe or beyond, ending homelessness is a team sport and I’m glad to have added so many great teammates to the team.
Real Skills FC Workshops
Each day players from England, the Netherlands, and Mexico, as well as referees from Portugal, sat down together to learn about relationships, teamwork, positivity, perspective, and communication. These skills and more are taught through soccer examples and discussions as part of the Homeless FA’s Real Skills For Change (FC) curriculum. It was great to see players share about the skills they could offer and how to improve their impact—even while overcoming language differences! I’m excited to start weaving some of what I learned into practices in Seattle.
On the pitch, players battled with new friends, applied skills from the workshops, and honed their touches thanks to coaching led by former Homeless FA players who now have their coaching qualifications through Homeless FA programs. These training sessions were held at Floor Heaven of Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs’ Hotel Football, overlooking Manchester United’s Old Trafford, and at the England National Team Headquarters at St. George’s Park, a place many Homeless FA players told me, “felt like home”!
Additionally, each day held more excitement for the players. Whether it was the unveiling of Homeless FA players’ recognition in the National Football Museum or walking in the footsteps of legends at Old Trafford or Etihad Stadiums, players experienced football at its finest in England. Furthermore, players had interviews and the opportunity to have their hair cut before a professional portrait in their national team uniforms.
Located in a reenergized warehouse in Old Trafford’s shadow, the final day gave players the opportunity to apply everything they have been working on. Although the players were all great friends now, you could see an added element of focus switched on for the tournament. Street Soccer Scotland also made the trip down for the day. After some great competition, Mexico won both the men’s and women’s tournaments. This, of course, was followed by a short dance party of all the teams in the middle of the court.