This weekend, two of Charlotte’s premier parks will become stadiums for sport and homeless awareness.
June 10-12 will mark the second annual Street Soccer 945 Invitational Tournament, held at Midtown Park near Metropolitan Plaza on June 10 and Romare Bearden Park from June 11-12. The tournament, featuring a super fast version of 4-on-4 soccer played on a walled-in sport court, will consist of three divisions, the Street Soccer Division, the Corporate Division and the Open Division.
The Street Soccer Division will be made up of teams comprised entirely of homeless players from New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, and Charlotte. The host team, Street Soccer 945, operates out of the Urban Ministry Center.
Pete Fink, Director of CommunityWorks 945 at the Urban Ministry Center, worked for six months with Mecklenburg County Park and Rec to secure the locations, after holding the first tournament last year at Romare Bearden Park and Ramblewood Soccer Complex.
This year’s locations give Fink a unique opportunity in the center of the city to showcase how his program and others nationally use soccer to build community, create positive change and to reward homeless players for their hard work and dedication, and not just on the field.
“I will never be able to fully understand what they go through and the resilience they show,” says Fink. “To be able to pull yourself back from a difficult situation under these circumstances is admirable and should be celebrated.”
Outside of celebrating the players and their accomplishments, Fink hopes the event spreads awareness about Street Soccer 945, and Charlotte’s perception of the homeless community.
“Not many people know the lengths Street Soccer 945 goes to in order to connect soccer skills to life skills,” says Fink. “We are not here to teach you to be a better soccer player. We are here to teach you to become a better version of yourself. Soccer just gets you in the door.”
For 50 homeless men and women this weekend, that door opens in Charlotte.
Want to participate?
The event is free and open to the public. In addition to the regular competition, there will be a free youth clinic put on by Soccer Shots on Saturday morning, followed by a celebrity mascot game.
Cover image courtesy of Street Soccer 945