Saturday, July 3, 2010

Own Goal

by Wells Tower

Tower writes in this article about the 2008 Homeless Soccer USA Cup, and the subsequent Homeless Soccer World Cup, which was held in Melbourne Australia.  Tower begins the article by following the New York team to Washington DC, and then continues to follow the gentlemen involved back to New York, and then on to Australia with the men chosen to represent the US.

Homeless Soccer is a sport developed to help reposition some of the world's homeless (over fifty countries participated), both within their own lives and as role models to others.  This does not have the same visceral thrills of say, bum fighting, but as Tower's understanding of the participants evolves, it comes close.

Early on, Tower sees in New York player Diego Viveros, the possible subject of a Dickensian book or film, as this hard-working and industrious former mortgage broker who has fallen on hard times gets selected to the National Team, and goes about improving his situation.  Of course, as with many of these types of tales where a well-meaning liberal wants to help someone down on his luck, Diego ends up disappointing Tower in a number of ways that Tower had no right to feel disappointed about.

I appreciate Tower's honesty about his conflicted feelings about some of the players, and found his portraits of the players to be brutally honest and mostly non-judgmental.  Tower allows most of the people he profiles to maintain their dignity, and his article sheds some light on the realities of homelessness in America today.

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