Seattle soccer fans for social change are undertaking the adventure of starting a local chapter of Street Soccer USA. Street Soccer USA is designed to assist men, women, and youth of all ages who lack permanent housing. I spoke with David Nibley about the efforts to get a Seattle chapter up and kicking. They could use your help. See our chat below.
SSE: How / why did this local chapter get started?
David Nibley: To be honest, we are still figuring out the “how.” None of us have ever started a non-profit, and by now we could write a book on what not to do.
The “why” started w/ Taso Lagos, a professor at UW. He saw a team in Greece practicing for the Homeless World Cup. He was so impressed with the program, he wanted to start a similar one here in Seattle. The rest of us jumped on board through various random coincidences.
Ultimately though, we want to help. We feel that soccer is a great way to blur the lines of marginalization felt by homeless individuals in our community. Many of us take the sport for granted. It’s hard to comprehend at times that there are those who walk among us with no opportunity to play and enjoy the game. There are some that can’t even afford a ball. We try to give everyone that comes to our program a ball if they don’t have one. With a ball, even if they never come back and we don’t see them again, hopefully they can continue to play where ever they go.
We also feel that there is power in team sports to uplift individuals. The support system a team provides is a rare commodity for those experiencing homelessness. The trust a player develops in his teammates on the field begin, to translate off the field as well. The friendships built help our players feel, again, less marginalized, and less isolated.
What are your long-term goals in Seattle?
Our long term goals are to establish a few teams throughout the city and maybe some sort of small league.
We would also like to develop a mentoring aspect as part of the program. Mentoring has been shown to be one of the most vital components in helping homeless individuals become self-sufficient. There are a lot of great mentoring programs out there, but we are unique. We can bring the mentor and mentee together on the pitch, where both love to be. The pitch is a great equalizer and can bring people together from different backgrounds. Hopefully, the relationship between mentor and mentee would then develop in ways that would help the homeless individual in other aspects of his life as well.
Will you be working with other local homeless organizations?
That depends on how much help we get. We can send flyers out all day long to homeless agencies throughout the city. But, that has proven to be ineffective. The best way for us to outreach to potential players is by spending time at the agencies and drop-in centers, developing a relationship with the individuals first, or at least putting a face to our program. It’s pretty time intensive, so with more help we would love to work with all agencies.
How far along in the process are you? Have you fielded teams yet?
We have registered our first team with the Co-Rec soccer league this summer. Our first game is June 19th! It’s a great team. We have players from four African Countries, three South / Central American Countries and various states across the nation.
That being said, we are still pretty green around the gills for an organization. Now that we have the team established and are more recognizable to our target population, we can focus on things like fund raising and program development. Street Soccer Seattle will look completely different this time next year (hopefully!).
How can local soccer fans help / get involved?
As a new non-profit that is completely volunteer run, we can use all of the help we can get. Anything from fans at our games, to coming out to play at our pick-up games and practices, to technical help on our website. Donations of gear or money of course are greatly needed. If anyone is interested in helping with the development of an exciting new program involving the greatest sport in the world. . .we have something you can do, or just like us on Facebook to keep up with our team.
Contact info for people interested:
Web address: http://streetsoccerseattle.org