Charlottesville homeless compete in Street Soccer USA Cup

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At 11am on Sunday, the Charlottesville Lions’ wild weekend at the Street Soccer USA Cup in Washington, D.C., came to a close. This year’s tournament featured 23 teams (from 19 different cities) made up of 200 homeless that converged on the nation’s capitol to play four-on-four futbol. For the seven men comprising the locally based Hope Community Center’s team, the tourney began on Friday with a couple lopsided losses but then followed with two wins in three games the next day.

A victory in a qualifying match on Saturday night sent them into a quarterfinal where they bowed out with a 3-4 record—not bad, considering half of Hope’s players had never kicked a soccer ball before this spring. Plus, it’s not supposed to be about winning anyway—the players were told again and again—but an encouraging, exciting experience they could take back home with them. More after the photo.

The Charlottesville Lions, a team assembled by the Hope Community Center and led by captain Darryl Rojas (left), qualified for the Street Soccer USA playoffs before losing a quarterfinal match.

“If you used all the energy you just spent in these two games on a week in Charlottesville,” Darryl Rojas, the Lions team captain, told his fellow teammates on Friday afternoon, “you’d have a car, a house, and a wife.”

It was hard to grasp that after just suffering a 10-2 defeat, but by Sunday it seemed possible. “It’s a great thing that happened,” said one player (who asked not to be identified), reflecting on the weekend’s events. However, Sunday also meant the team would be returning to Charlottesville and reality. “Tonight we’ll be in the same situation as before, struggling to make it.”
 

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