Tag Archives: street soccer

balance

balance.

my life is a constant struggle between balancing and rebalancing.

relationships, jobs, education, ministry.

priorities.

balance brings with it peace, thus why our (or maybe just my) balance is so important.  it feels good to have a solid foundation underneath your feet.  especially where you are juggling a few too many balls.

one of the places i feel most balanced is at st andrews church on sunday evenings.  getting to share a meal and socialize with a lot of my poor and/or homeless friends is a gift that continues to keep giving me back way more than i put in.

pizza is always a guaranteed component of the meal.  each plate comes with a slice of pizza, then your option of a small plastic bag full of small slices.  this past sunday, the church that was hosting made a delicious (and from what i could tell nutritious) meal for the community.

kat and walked into the gym a few moments after the 5pm public prayer and grace. randy spotted us his way.

‘lucas!’ randy shouted.

i turned to see randy smiling, his right hand upon his now shaved head, rubbing the hairless surface.

‘i shaved my head just like you.’

randy is one of our original members of street soccer.  he competes in several special olympics events and does quite well considering he’s pushing 60.  he doesn’t move the fastest on the soccer pitch nor does he have the strongest kick, but he works hard and celebrates like no one else.  even a bad case of asthma can’t keep him away from playing.

‘my stomach still isn’t feeling well,’ randy said to me.  ‘the doctors at the emergency room told me to take it easy.’

randy can’t play but stays around to watch and cheer on his teammates.

that’s loyalty.

we had another big turnout of players.  international students have been coming more steadily, i guess seeing us as a place where they can play the game they love and integrate into canadian society.  our players have embraced and welcomed them into our little sports community.

i love how we do that.

i end up playing with sim, adele and holly on my team.

sim and adele go to school together at one of the local high schools.  both have immigrated here with their parents from countries in the middle east and north africa.  both have experienced difficulties fitting in here in halifax.  can’t tell if it has to do with bullying or just a difference in cultures.

it’s no fun when you don’t fit in.

but not at street soccer.  they fit in perfectly here.

sim is a talented, young soccer player whose only weakness is that he is so skinny that he gets easily bumped off the ball by larger players.  he took a hard spill this past sunday, knocking his elbow hard off the pitch.  two minutes later he was scoring goals for us again.
what adele lacks in soccer skills he makes up in sheer effort, though his skills have begun to develop considerably in the past while.  adele will often shout ‘no!’ after the opposing team or even his own team scores a goal.  it seemed quite odd at first, but after a while we noticed a pattern similar with that of tourette’s syndrome.  while it often takes visiting players a bit off guard, the rest of the players have become used to the loud outbursts.

just as some of our guys are dealing with depression or schizophrenia or anxiety or adhd or bipolar or whatever else, this is just part of what adele is dealing with.  street soccer is a no stigma community.

and i plan it keep it that way.

holly is one of kat’s friends who started coming out and playing with us several months ago.  holly is an athlete.  a former university basketball player, she holds her own on the soccer pitch quite well.  she plays with a knee that needs major surgery soon and an ankle that not long ago that was one of the craziest colors of purple i’ve ever seen.  she’s tough.  she recently bet val she could beat him in a game of one on one basketball.  not the wisest decision.  valentin won himself two weeks worth of dinners.  ha!

after two and half hours of soccer we are all worn out.  it so happened that someone had left the heat on in the church gymnasium, which was a good explanation why everyone was drenched in sweat.  after a brief team stretch we all gather our things and turn off the lights.

whatever balance issues i had walking into st andrews were no longer there when i walked back out.  another week of street soccer is over.  i’m so grateful that i have such an amazing, authentic and inclusive community to belong to, and one that brings a good dose of balance into my life.

i love this game.

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sunday turnaround

today didnt start well.

around midnight the biggest headache this side of 2013 went into a full-blown meltdown.  the weather in halifax had a part to play (damn, temperature swings!) but im pretty sure that the head cold i got from one of my street soccer youth was the main culprit.

youll pay, ryan.

the youth we sent to mexico city for the homeless world cup, is staying with me right now.  the at-risk/homeless youth program that he is part of decided to time him out (polite way of saying kicked out) of the program over a small infraction.  now i find it a rather curious method of punishment to use, especially when you are supposed to be trying to GET youth off the street and into proper housing.

why does it seem like we (the larger collective) are so obsessed with punitive justice?

it doesnt work!

why not something more positive?  why not community service?  volunteer some hours at the local food bank, serve lunches at a seniors home, or pick up garbage in the city.  something along those lines.  that makes more sense to me.  kicking them out of the house you have tried to make a home and establish them in, trying to make them comfortable in (which IS NOT easy), seems to me to be more counter-productive than anything else.

ok, breathe, lucas.

i digress..

so, headache, brutal cold with a nasty fever to boot, and i missed pax attempting to sleep my sickness off.  not how i like to start my week.

fortunately, things turned around.

i told val i wasnt going to make it to street soccer tonight and to run things without me.  i didnt want to leave my bed unless it meant i was going to the bathroom or getting chicken noodle soup, but after my cell phone started with all the texts asking about street soccer i decided to bury my inner wimp for at least a few hours and made my way to st andrews.

im glad i did.

we had our biggest turnout of our 17 month street soccer career.  a couple new players, some of our older players, and a great group of girl guides who brought our players sports socks and shorts.  thanks, girls!

7 teams squared off for some intense indoor street soccer, playing with a little extra incentive: timmys gift cards.  at the end, val and his team proved too much to handle for everyone.  he had been brooding for the past year since my team took the first sunday street soccer tournament.

congrats, val, even though theres a definitely asterisk next to your victory since i didnt play.  ha!

ive been trying for the better part of a year to get my buddy from pax, (another) ryan, out to play with us.  tonight he made his street soccer debut and did not disappoint.  he kicked butt.  after i told val that ryan had played varsity soccer at university he didnt feel so bad when ryan burned him repeatedly.  good impression, ryan 😉

nick, from unohalifax, another local non-profit, made his debut as well.  nick’s team won the first annual street soccer tournament in spectacular fashion, beating all the best teams to hoist the trophy.  coming off a recent knee surgery, nick was his usual patient, calculating self but appeared a bit more cautious because of the knee, but still was able to control the game and wow our players.  glad to have you with us, nick.

all in all, the day finished pretty well considering the terrible start.

ryan leaves to head back home tomorrow after spending the week here with me.  im going to get off here now and go watch something funny with him.

night, ya’ll.

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team play

you know when you lay down for a nap and its only suppose to be 30 minutes, 40 tops, and it turns into a 3 hour sleep?  well after church today i had me one of those naps. now because of that im wired and wide awake as the minute hands approaches a quarter to 3am.
this isnt going to be good for my insomnia..

i walked into the st andrews gymnasium just shortly after 5 tonight.  at 5 they begin serving the community dinner to the poor and homeless of the city.  tonight they had all the tables covered with red and green table clothes for christmas.  i noticed 6 new tables in the large room and faces ive never seen before.  the need for food among those below the poverty level continues to grow here.  these newly added tables and new faces are a silent reminder of that.

paul is the first one to me.

‘are we playing tonight?!’

last week when we canceled street soccer for the week paul was the most upset, or at the very least showed it the most.  his face physically dropped from a giant smile (that he usually wears) to a floor-rattling frown when i told him ‘no street soccer this week’.  some of our guys (paul especially) really look forward to this night together playing sports.  to some it may look like just a game with a round ball and small red nets, to others it means spending time with a community of friends doing something they love.

‘yes we are.’

big hug.  we are a group that loves to hug 🙂

other players get up out of their seats and make their way over.  informal team meeting happens.  more players asking about practice tonight followed by high fives and fist pumps.  i wish i was always this popular.

glen cant play because of a leg injury but decides to do color commentary from an elevated seat on the stage.  glen usually likes to give play-by-plays on the action, with an enthusiasm unmatched by most.  his stories are so seamlessly told along with his commentary that i dont notice the change overs.

‘what a great move by ryan!  that reminds me of the time i moved from east vancouver out to the mountains.  what a rough winter that was.  colder than the north pole, i swear!  i saw more snow that year than i bet you will ever see in your lifetime.  i hope it doesnt snow this winter.  i dont have any winter boots. i sold them for a silver toaster oven so i could touch up on my baking skills.. what a pass!’

thanks, glen.

lots of players out tonight.  some new faces and younger kids.  dylon, who i guess it about 9 or 10 years of age, played on my team with john, who has almost lost his big belly!  he looks so much healthier.  dylon came out with a couple of older at-risk youth who have been out to play a few times.  unsure and slightly hesitant at first, he eventually became comfortable in his new surroundings and played really well.

i get thinking about what type of background dylon comes from and what he goes home to.  foster home?  group home?   it makes me think that we need to do something more intentional with kids of younger ages as well.

fransisco, a relatively new player from chile, is out once again to play.  he has a smooth style to his game thats pretty graceful and fun to watch, even better to play alongside.  only problem is that his english isnt very good and my spanish isnt any better.  communication between us is quite difficult but we manage.  the guys love having him out and playing with him.  he seems quite grateful to have a community of people to belong to and we are more than happy to have him.

after the last game wraps up (a win for val’s skins team), everyone shakes hands and says their goodbyes.  some guys say a short goodbye and leave for home, while others hang out till the last possible moment, soaking in every last bit of time with their teammates and coaches as they can.

starving for community.

nets and balls are put away.  lights go off in the gym.  doors are locked up. couple more hugs shared between friends.

street soccer is over for another week,  and its now time for me to wrestle with the sandman.

night.

090

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