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Monday, August 2, 2010

DC SCORES campers receive visit from Street Soccer USA, then return the favor

DC SCORES’ summer camp participants are getting full exposure to where the sport of soccer can lead you. This Wednesday, a large group of students will hop on a bus and travel to the Maryland SoccerPlex to watch the Washington Freedom women’s professional team compete at its beautiful stadium.

But over the last two weeks, students from the DC SCORES Soccer & Arts Summer Camp got a different view of soccer’s influence. With the first annual Street Soccer USA Open Cup in town last weekend, the elementary school kids got to practice and scrimmage with the DC Knights team prior to the tournament and then watch some of the 16 teams compete the next week.

Street Soccer USA (SSUSA) is a 20-city league that aims “to get homeless men, women, and youth off the streets, ‘scoring goals on the field, and achieving their goals in life.’” Its broad mission has a similar theme to DC SCORES’, and the students enjoyed getting the chance to learn from the team of local men.

When the Knights visited camp, they worked through a host of drills with the students and then scrimmaged with them. For Knights players like Alberto, who is playing for the first time, they’re learning the game just like DC SCORES participants. So in that way, the two groups could relate to each other.

“It was perfect,” said Manual, another Knights player. “We shared with the kids a good opportunity so they can participate in the sport.”

A week later, the campers sat in the stands at the makeshift indoor-style field at Kastles Stadium at City Center near Chinatown— watching a thrilling, tightly contested match between Ft. Worth, Texas, and Denver. After the match, they were escorted down to the field for a photo on the rubber-like surface followed by a couple of laps to burn off some energy.

Then they exited the field and were reacquainted with the Knights, who quickly formed a circle and started passing the ball around. Every few minutes, the circle would break and a “DC Knights!” chant would start up, with adults and kids yelling in unison.

After his second experience with the students, Alberto — coming off a 10-2 Knights victory in his first game — was impressed.

“They played well,” he said. “Some of them played very good.

“That’s wonderful,” he said of DC SCORES. “I wish we could have had the same opportunity.”

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