Tag Archives: street

quitting

i just woke up from an unscheduled nap and felt compelled to blog.  nothing in particular in mind to write about but just a desire to put something down.  ill just start writing and see where it takes me.

im looking around my room right now for something to trigger a recent memory during the past week that i would enjoy writing about.  my cat sits on the old trunk in my living room licking himself as he so often likes to do.  the large dump of snow this weekend has dimmed the light from entering in through the small basement windows in my apartment, as if it werent dark enough down here.  my plants are drooping from either too little sunlight or water.  its probably both.

my living room is not going to be a good source of inspiration, but im not getting up from my chair so my inspiration will have to come from elsewhere.

one of my players quit on his team last night at street soccer.  it made me really mad.  madder than a mad hatter mad.  ok, maybe not that mad but it certainly irked me more than i was prepared for.  its one thing to quit at something when it only affects you (ex. tennis, track and field, etc) but its much different when you’re quitting lets down others/teammates.

in my last year of university basketball i hurt my back pretty bad.  for a while it was a struggle to simply get out of bed and get changed.  putting on socks was sometimes a 20 minute endeavour.  i rehabbed everyday trying to get my back better.  i saw the physio daily, the massage therapist every other day and followed a yoga dvd in my living room twice a day trying to get back into shape.  eventually my back started to respond and i was able to begin playing again, albeit, still with a considerable amount of pain.

at the christmas break my parents sat me down and had some candid talks with me about the health of my back.  as much progress as i had made, i wasnt close to 100% and every practice or game i played moving forward would threaten the health of my body for the future.  i knew they wanted me to shut it down and end my senior year prematurely.  the thought was unthinkable, no matter how much the pain in my body said otherwise.

my mom asked me if i wanted to play sports with my kids one day.  if i kept going the way i was going, she insisted, the likelihood of me watching from a wheelchair became increasingly more likely.

no pun intended but that was the straw the broke the camels back: my basketball career was officially over.

i cried.  it may seem silly to some, crying over a game, but that game had been my life, day in and day out, for over a decade.

sure, i had a medical reason to not go back and finish out the season with my team but it still felt like i quit on them and i hated that feeling.

i really wish things had been different.  not a day goes by that i dont wish that.

does everything really happen for a reason or is that just something we tell ourselves to make us feel better?

my cat is still licking himself.  now hes scratching his face with his hind leg.  i wish i were that flexible.  am i turning into one of those really weird people who give play by plays on their cats?  this may be a new low.  its like he knows im writing about him.  he just stopped and is staring at me now.  maybe he can read my mind.  maybe my cat has telepathy!  maybe this is the weirdest and all-over-the-place blog i have ever written.

im not about to go back through the last 3 years of blogging to figure that out.

later.

/endofreallyweirdblogpost

qutting

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sunday recap

sunday was quite the day.

it started off with a huge dump of snow.  a good 8-10 inches of snow covered everything and more was falling from the sky.  walking to church in the morning was a bit of a trudge but it was a nice trudge.

kat’s friend had asked us to come check out her church some time so this sunday was that some time.  the community church was located inside a small elementary school gym in the south end of the city.  the new zealand guy that lead music was incredibly gifted, not to mention the other two musicians.  the pastor preached for 20 minutes and then decided the sermon was over so they could pray for one of the campus leaders who attended the church.

ive never seen that before.  heck, im not sure ive heard/seen many preachers who deliver their message in less than 40 minutes.  but he got his point across and thats all that matters.  i told him so after the service was over.  humble guy with a very missional heart and love of community.

my kind of guy.

we finally decided to get bigger nets for street soccer.  for the last year and half we have been playing, both indoor and outdoor soccer with two small nets.  they are about two and half feet high and three feet wide, shaped like a semi-circle and weigh next to nothing so most hard shots knock it back most of the time.

not anymore.

new nets werent the only new additions to street soccer this sunday.  nick, the captain of the winning team of our last street soccer tournament, has been coming out to play with us lately.  we have been talking with him about coaching our guys and hes shown considerable interest.  nick is an incredibly talented player with the natural ability to connect with others and build positive relationships.  he also has a non-profit business that uses those two gifts to their maximum potential (no, nick is not paying me for this ad, haha).

anyways, nick brought a few friends out to play with him, and those friends also invited a few friends so we had 7 new international players come out to play with us.

what a difference in play!

our guys got a show on sunday night.  some of the guys that came out did things with a soccer ball that they have never seen done before, im sure.  one of the guys from morocco, an international doctor doing research at dal, mesmerized guys with his style of play including yours truly.

guys were loving the faster style of play so much that we went past 8pm, which we hardly ever do.  when we stopped around 830 guys were still wanting to keep playing.

we have come a long way.  ha!

there are a lot of international student, immigrants and refugees that call halifax home (if not just temporarily) and the one thing they all usually have in common is their love for soccer (football to them).  hopefully now that we have so many talented players and community builders on board, we can begin bringing street soccer into the  poorer immigrant and refugee communities in the great halifax area.

i dont want to count my chickens before they have hatched but i love it when a great idea comes together!

a special thanks to my friend, brother and partner with halifax street soccer, valentin.  you rock, dude!  couldnt have done this without you.

night, world.

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dave’s help

i was late for sunday supper again.  those mid-afternoon sunday naps always get me.  its not that i have to be there before sunday supper starts but i enjoy catching up with some of my street friends that come to take in the community meal together.  regardless of the food placed in front of me (which is usually pretty tasty), its always a good time with interesting conversations.

i hadnt seen or talked with leonard in quite a while, but there he was, face buried in a hearty serving of pasta as i came in the doors.  he beckoned me over and i sat down across from him.

‘i made myself almost $30 in bottles today!’

‘high-five!’

leonard’s good hand is occupied with his digger (fork) and goes to high-five with his crippled arm.  theres not much of a clap but it doesnt seem to bother either of us and we laugh.  oh man, do i laugh when im with leonard!

i ask him where he has been and why i havent seen him around.  hes been hiding.  leonard gets bullied at some of the hangout spots in the city.  for the life of me i cant see why aside from him simply being an easy target, with a bad leg and arm he has had since birth.  hes a very quiet and humble migmaw man who usually keeps to himself, though has no problem holding conversation with anyone who wants to talk.

i dont like bullies.  when i was in grade two i was bullied by an older boy named yohan or something like that.  he never had the satisfaction of beating me up but for two years he chased me home from school and sent enough threats through other kids to make me live in fear.  hopefully yohan gave up his bullying ways.

leonard doesnt want to tell me who is bullying him.  he doesnt want it to get worse.  i try to tell him that i can help fix the situation but he wont budge.  he tells me its his battle to fight and he will fight it alone.  im not about to argue with my friend whom i havent seen in a long time.  i tell him to come over to my place later and grab a bag full of bottles.  a big grin comes over his face and says ‘thanks’.
street soccer starts.  we have tons of people out again.  we field 7 teams for the second sunday night in a row.  after coach val leads the players through some warm ups, we are ready to play.

i decide to give my ankle a try and put myself with dave, paul and nick.  dave was one of our original players in the beginning.  he sees the game better than anyone else that comes out to play.  unfortunately the street life has a strong pull on his life.  when he is stronger and winning the battle, he is usually at street soccer.  when he is weaker, he is hard to find.  right now hes healthy and engaged in street soccer every week.

dave was my first friend from the street here in halifax so he has a special place in my heart.

paul was one of our finalists when we were deciding who to send to mexico city for the homeless world cup.  skinny as a rake, long legs that start at his neck and a huge passion for the game.  we finally got paul a pair of shorts so he doesnt have to wear his jeans anymore.  he is self-conscious about his skinny legs and begins to balk at wearing his new shiny shorts.  i tell him my legs are skinny too and that he and i can anchor team chicken legs.  hes in and on go the shorts.

it was nicks first time to street soccer.  nick looked to be about 19 or 20, full of energy and what appeared to be a mental handicap.  when it came time to play 3-on-3, nick wasnt sure he wanted to play.  he said everyone moved so fast and he didnt think he could keep up.

he was right.  the games did go pretty fast and he had a tough time keeping up with the action but he played.  he played his little heart out, too.  he made mistakes but kept on playing.  after making a good pass to dave who was able to score, he celebrated by shooting his little arms up in the air as if he had just won a very important game.

maybe it was.  at least to him.

dave was like a big brother with nick.  he took him under his wing for the evening and coached him on little things he could do.  on the floor together, dave tried to get nick involved and encouraged him whether he failed or succeeded.  safe to say, dave made nicks night memorable.

while we usually cut games off at 8pm, the energy is high and no one wants to stop.  players are playing hard, teamwork is at a premium and everyone is getting better.

i think we may have to start playing more than one night a week.

after soccer, dave came out for all-you-can lasagna with a few of us.  i told him that i appreciated how great he was with nick.  he wouldnt hear anything of it, saying that helping nick out was what he was supposed to do.  he didnt feel he deserved anymore recognition than anyone else.  he was just being himself.

well, since you wouldnt take the ‘thank you’, dave, ill thank you here where everyone else can see your big heart.  thanks for making our little sports community that much better, dave.

just another sunday on the east coast.

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christmas day

i think christmas flew by faster this year than any year previous.  im finally starting to see and believe what all those grown ups told me as i was growing up – ‘better enjoy your younger years because they will fly by when you are older’.  i always scoffed at those would-be fortune tellers, only to now see the value in their words.

time does fly by much faster now.

regardless of how fast it went, the memories wont so quickly to vanish with the season.  this christmas was one of the most memorable ones for me.

heres why:

a few weeks before christmas i began asking some of the guys i know on the street what they would be doing for the holidays.  some were heading out-of-town to see family, while others had no plans of even celebrating.  christmas is a rough time for a lot of people.  for the guys i know on the streets its usually very rough.  depression, extra anxieties, suicidal feelings are par for the course. the past has a way of doing some extra haunting around the christmas season.

the wonderful part about living by myself in my humble basement apartment is that i no longer have to ask any roommates if they mind when i invite guys in.  i had roommates in the past who were ‘ok’ with having them in, though they usually disappeared behind their locked bedroom doors, but most were not as inviting.

ignorance is a heck of a thing.

so with no roommates to ask about having a christmas party, invites were liberally thrown out to many of the guys i share every day life with on the street.

craig told me he would come.  craig is as old as my dad but about half the size (my dad is a big man).  he was born with very bad hearing and eyesight.  when you talk to craig you have to speak fairly loud so he can understand you.  you have to struggle equally as hard to understand what he is saying.  while communicating with craig is challenging, when you do have a chance to talk with him you begin to see a kind, intelligent, and thoughtful man who lives a very lonely life.

i picked craig up at the bus stop around the corner and we walked back to my place.  he moved pretty slow as his cane jumped along the pavement in front of us.  i walked on an angle, leaning his way so i can hear what hes saying and speak back into his ‘good’ ear.  he tells me in the 44 years he has spent in halifax no one has ever invited him over for christmas.

44 years without friend or family to celebrate christmas with is a downright sin.

ryan, glen and dave – three of our street soccer players – come over as well.  ryan brings with him some finger foods to pop in the oven.  they’re gone as soon as they hit the coffee table.  he is happy with his contribution, as he should be.  he tells me about the donations he was able to get for some great organizations in the city.  his smile beams as he tells of his selfless accomplishment.  im proud of him like a big brother is of his younger sibling.

we hug it out.

dave grabs the guitar and begins to serenade the group.  he mixes his stories in with the lyrics as he usually does.  dave always has more stories to tell.
glen brings in some chips he was able to buy with some money he received from pan handling.  he gives me a bag full of things he bought kat and i for christmas.  shampoo for kat, socks and gloves for me.

presents are always nice to get on christmas, but these gifts mean more than all of the others.  thinking about glen sitting there on the side of the road pan handling for our christmas gifts chokes me up.  im starting to really understand why Jesus hung out with the homeless so much during His days on earth.

a couple more people join us.  finger foods, christmas cookies and glasses of punch litter the coffee table in my living room.  conversation is lively and uplifting.  everyone seems to have left their cares somewhere else, if only for the afternoon.  moses, my cat, makes his rounds around the room to get his attention and try nibbling off peoples plates.

i sit back in my chair and take it all in.  a big smile comes to my face.  im surrounded by friends and people i love and who love me.

im blessed beyond measure this christmas.

happy birthday, Jesus and thanks for the blessing of friendship, both with You and with my friends on the street.

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