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2014-01-10 at 15:50

Street Soccer

By Jodi Lundmark,
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Shelter House has received a $28,000 grant from the Ontario Sports and Recreation Community Fund to start a Thunder Bay chapter of Street Soccer Canada.

The program will allow the city's homeless community and those living in poverty to have some fun playing soccer while improving their physical and social health.

Program coordinator Ken Miller said he hopes it gives people a safe place to forget about their everyday life.

"They don't have to worry about those things on the outside of soccer. They can come, hang out, forget whatever," he said.

"I want to get those people who don't normally come out and do stuff, the people who kind of sit back on their own. I want to grab those guys and bring them in with all the people that are already running around," Miller said.

"I want everyone to break out of their shells and run with it."

Shelter House executive director Patty Hajdu said while the organization has done a good job of providing the basics of shelter, food and clothing to the community, now they can give them something fun.

"A lot of times people are really stuck in a really hopeless place and this is an opportunity to inject some fun and some sense of community and some sense of pride," she said.

Shelter House had some help from Street Soccer Canada implementing the program to make sure they had the right equipment, training and structure.

SSC executive director and founder Paul Gregory said he's seen the effects the program can have and the benefits are great when it comes to physical health and wellness.

"They don't need you to say 'hey, stop smoking.' They just know 'hey, if I'm running around for an hour, I need to stop smoking,''" he said.

Players also get the benefits of being on a team and competing. There is the opportunity to play in national tournaments. There is even a Homeless World Cup that happens every year.

The program has several benefits, but Gregory said the most important is the spark of empowerment and hope it generates.

"I think that's the greatest goal of what the soccer program...provides," he said.

There isn't a set location yet for games in Thunder Bay and men and women of any age are welcome to play.

"If you're eight years old or 75, come and play," said Miller.



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jonthunder says:
I am dumbfounded with this one. Must, must be an election in the making.
1/10/2014 4:32:52 PM
livewire says:
Who's going watch the $$ on the spending, to make sure it goes to Street Soccer!
1/10/2014 5:48:03 PM
Molly says:
What does a soccer ball cost ...... $28,000?
1/10/2014 6:04:21 PM
ajenkins says:
"Soccer is going to get the people that need to forget their homeless, and probably spend all day walking around," off the street, use the $28000 to find homes.
1/10/2014 7:38:38 PM
Bondjames80 says:
Everyone in that photo should be ashamed, spending our taxes on a homeless soccer league! You could probably give every homeless person in Canada a free soccer ball for less than that. As if the homeless alcoholics in this city will be lining up to play soccer. And what city drew the short straw to host the homeless soccer World Cup. Just what you want all of the worlds best homeless soccer stars to descend on your city. I seriously thought this was an early April fools joke!
1/11/2014 10:55:26 AM
Kam River says:
Shelter House gets $28,000 for Street Soccer. Ok so another social workers gets a great jobs.
But tell me how does this help the homeless. Not...
It is time Shelter house starts helping the homes rather than jobs for their friends and building a empire.
1/11/2014 5:46:09 PM
tsb says:
The soccer helps them build self esteem and confidence, which is the first step to getting their lives back on track. This has been done in other cities with great success, and it's well worth the cost!

1/12/2014 11:06:52 AM
thomasscott1990 says:
The Homeless World Cup uses the power of football to energize homeless people so they can change their own lives. Mel Young from Scotland and Harald Schmied from Austria, came up with the idea at a conference on homelessness, in Cape Town in 2001. This program has helped less fortunate for 13 years around the world. Give an idea a chance before you bash it.

1/12/2014 11:08:10 PM
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