Life lessons discovered on the soccer field

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by JOHN SHARIFY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @JohnSharify

KING5.com

Posted on July 28, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 28 at 9:14 PM

SEATTLE -- When you go out on the soccer field, you never want to be on the losing side. 

"It hurts to lose," says David Nibley, coach of a summer recreation team called Momentum, "Yeah we are losing our momentum."

Nibley pointed out a few days before the last game of the season. When we talked at practice, his team was 0-11. And even in the final game, with a final chance at just one win, Momentum lost 10-4 in the six on six indoor summer soccer league.

At first glance you might look at their poor record and conclude it was a disappointing season. But you can't measure this team's success, or lack of it, by looking at the wins and losses.

"It's about the team, " says Nibley, "It's about understanding than in life there are losses and victories but if you have a strong team to support you, you'll get through it."

It's been hard on the players. Not the game stuff. But the life stuff.

"I curl up and I put my arms inside my sleeves," says Josh Arnold, the teams back up goalie who sleeps on the streets and showed us how he keeps warm.  "Being homeless on the street is a dangerous life. It really is."

The players on this homeless soccer team can forget their troubles for a while , while they're practicing and playing. That's the idea behind Street Soccer Seattle, a non-profit that gives the younger homeless in our community a place to go, and play. It's a place to escape their world and figure out their place in this world. Maybe.

"It's great to see the guys we've been with for two years to go from the street to housing, to jobs, to school," says Coach Nibley, "Guys calling me to say I can't come to practice because I have to finish a paper. I love that!"  

And Josh Arnold has grown to love soccer. He didn't finish the season with the team, but while he was out there it was clear that Seattle's street soccer gave him something he hadn't experienced for a while, that feeling of belonging.  "I feel really good," he told me. And when I asked him, after a game in mid-season , where he would be sleeping that night, his answer summed up his life and the uncertainty of it all. "That's a great question!"  It was another way of saying he didn't know.

For more information about this program that's making a difference, visit www.streetsoccerseattle.org.

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