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Street Soccer Canada team from Vancouver Downtown Eastside present video of Homeless World Cup 2010 at First United Church

March 17, 2011 2 comments

Our local Street Soccer Canada team from Vancouver Downtown Eastside recently presented a video of their memories of their time at Homeless World Cup 2010 in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil to members of First United Church

AHA MEDIA filmed at Team Canada for Street Soccer at Rio Homeless World Cup 2010 Welcome Back Home to Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES)

September 28, 2010 2 comments

Fans, friends and family joyously welcomed back our Team Canada back from Rio Homeless World Cup 2010 in Brazil!  Our boys were very proud to come home and were honored to be named the winners of the Fair Play trophy from the tournament among 65 other countries!! A delicious breakfast for our athletes was catered by Potluck Cafe at Life Skills Centre in Vancouver Downtown Eastside ( DTES )

In this video, Coach Alan Bates of Team Canada for Street Soccer comes home to Vancouver DTES

In this video, Patrick, Co -Captain of Team Canada for Street Soccer comes home to Vancouver DTES

In this video, Peter of Team Canada for Street Soccer comes home to Vancouver DTES

In this video, Peter Davies of AHA MEDIA with Peter Chow of Team Canada for Street Soccer in Vancouver DTES

In this video, Peter Chow with Kevin King of Team Canada for Street Soccer in Vancouver DTES

In this video, Coach Alan Bates Team Canada for Street Soccer coming into LifeSkills Centre in Vancouver DTES

In this video, Rik Mountain of Team Canada for Street Soccer coming into LifeSkills Centre in Vancouver DTES

In this video, Peter Chow of Team Canada for Street Soccer coming into LifeSkills Centre in Vancouver DTES

Patrick of Team Canada for Street Soccer speaking to Media at LifeSkills Centre in Vancouver DTES

In this video, Leo and Patrick speak on Team Canada’s Fair Play Award from Rio Homeless World Cup 2010

In this video, Kevin King, Co- Captain of Team Canada for Street Soccer at LifeSkills Centre in Vancouver DTES

In this video, Frank of Team Canada for Street Soccer at LifeSkills Centre in Vancouver DTES

Team Canada for Street Soccer at Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup Day 9

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Coach Alan Bates writes:

Hi Street Soccer Canada fans,


Well, today is our last day here in Rio. A lot has happened over the last three days so I’ll try to get you caught up before we have to leave for the airport.


For pictures from a triumphant Day 9, see:http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=494628&id=852065453&l=3e0b843e07


I knew Day 9 was going to go well when we actually left the hostel on time. After our Canada cheer and a quick trip on the Metro, we arrived at the Mellow Yellow hostel for breakfast. The meals there have been really good. Breakfast has generally been cheese, ham, eggs, and hotdog slices in somekind of sauce. Hotdogs in tomato sauce seems to be the classic version, but you wouldn’t believe how many different delicious hotdog concoctions there can be (for dinner as well as breakfast). Our hostel serves a slightly less refined version of the hotdogs in tomato sauce, so we generally made the trip to Mellow Yellow for the higher quality version.


Our first game of the day was against Switzerland. I’d scouted them a bit over the first few days of the tournament and they’d had some nice results: 7-1 over Greece, a win on penalties after a 3-3 tie with Hungary (who beat us 6-1), and 12-1 against New Zealand. I thought we could play with them though. Taking a page right out of the Coach’s Corner playbook, I used our pre-game huddle to ask the guys if they knew why we didn’t have names on the back of our jerseys (true answer is that we didn’t know who all the players were going to be before they made the jerseys). Don Cherry-esque answer I gave the guys: Because you don’t play for the name on the back, you play for the crest on the front. That got a combination of cheers and laughter and I don’t know if it helped or not, but it was fun to say.


Whether because of the Don Cherry-like address, the tomato sauce slathered hotdog bits or some other unknown variable, we came out flying against the Swiss. Our team defence was even better than it was against Mexico. Every time we lost the ball in the other team’s end, someone was right back to put an end to any Swiss opportunism. We were sacrificing the body as shot after Swiss shot was blocked in one fashion or another. There were some rockets that got through our defence, but they would only get so far. With his performance of the week and one that would redefine his level of play for the rest of the tournament, keeper Kevin King stepped it up big time. He was hitting the deck, stacking the pads, flailing out arms, whatever was needed. Switzerland would manage only one goal against him. Unfortunately, the Swiss defence was equally resolute.

In close games like this, you always look to the character players. Having already secured our first win with a hat-trick, Richard Mountain left nothing to chance when he unleashed an unfaltering one-timer from the left side of the net that would send us into sudden-death penalties. With his previoius penalty performance fresh in my memory, it was an easy decision to give Robert Milton the nod for our first shot. It was a decision that wouldn’t be second-guessed as he answered the call by putting it in the upstairs left corner where mother keeps the Toblerones. In the only ending that could do justice to his performance throughout the whole game, Kevin King then came out to the top of the crease, made himself big and gobbled up Switzerland’s only chance to keep the competition alive.


We were ecstatic with our second win of the tournament. It could be argued that New Zealand was a team we should have beat, but this was different. If I knew who any of the Swiss guys were, I think I’d be able to say they have a more skilled team on paper than we do. It was a real gutsy performance with a deserved result. Between games, we celebrated our big win with refreshments at one of the boardwalk kiosks and even did a little congo-line dancing when some musicians stopped by provide some entertainment and take an unreasonable amount of our money.


Our second game of the day was against India. In a familiar pattern, we played another good game against a team that was just a few steps ahead of us in skill and experience. Jeremy Isaac continued his good form with a couple of goals to keep things interesting in an 8-2 loss.


Having taken care of business at the tournament, it was time to hit the beach in Ipanema. We jumped through huge waves, played some football with the locals, caught some rays, and bought some ridiculous items from the roaming beach vendors. Ipanema was followed up by a veritable feast of a selection of fine meats and other delicacies courtesy of Paul Gregory, the head of Street Soccer Canada.


We then retreated to the hostel to get ready for a night out in Lapa. Lapa is a party district filled with restaurants, bars and clubs. The guys were looking pretty stylin’ and we had a fun time wandering through the festive crowds. In the end though, that environment proved a bit too much for a couple of the guys and we cut the night a little early. We needed to re-focus for Hong Kong in the morning.


Thanks for your support,


Alan

Team Canada for Street Soccer at Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup Day 8

September 27, 2010 1 comment

Coach Alan Bates writes:

Hi Street Soccer Canada fans,

I’ve fallen even further behind with these updates. A lot happens in a day for some of our guys, even when they’re not participating in a soccer tournament in Rio.

Some of you have probably already found photos for Day 8 at:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=493079&id=852065453&l=470e63b66e

Every morning as we leave the hostel, we gather in a circle and someone says something about Canada before we do a 1-2-3-Canada! cheer. You might not have guessed that some or our players are really into the history channel. Things shared in our morning ritual have included Billy Bishop shooting down the Red Baron, Canadians figuring out how to deal with mustard gas, and German POWs being well-treated (apparently with steak dinners?) in Eastern Canada during WWII. Although these are all related to conflicts with Germany, one of our players also told me that he really likes Germans and feels that of all the European cultures, theirs is most like his own First Nations culture. I didn’t get a lot of details, but there must be a Sociology thesis there somewhere.

Day 8 was relatively uneventful from a soccer point of view. We only had one game and I feel like there’s not a lot to say about it. Either that or I’m too tired to remember details. We played Finland, didn’t score, and got scored on a lot. We didn’t have a bad game, they were just a better team and we didn’t get any bounces. I’ve got to emphasize again how good the guys have been at just accepting very lopsided games like this, keeping a positive attitude and moving on.

The highlight of the day came off the pitch with our ride on the Santa Teresa streetcar. It only costs 60 cents (or whatever they’re called here) for an amazing 40-or-so minute trip. After a section of elevated track that makes it feel like you’re slowly floating (in a clunky kind of way) over the city in a streetcar, the tracks wind up narrow curving roads. The scenery includes restaurants, homes, and very impressive street art/graffiti. In addition to the paying customers, scores of kids hop on and off all the way up, barely missing telephone poles and buses going the other way as they hang from the side. Of course, our players couldn’t miss out on that kind of reckless fun so they also had a go at barely avoiding utility poles and side-mirrors. We’ve spent a lot of time near the tournament venue in Copacabana and this felt like a much more genuine part of the city. After the streetcar trip, the Theatro Municipal was also really spectacular at night with lights coming through all the stained-glass windows.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch up on the updates tomorrow.

Thanks for your support,

Alan

Team Canada for Street Soccer at Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup Day 7

September 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Coach Alan Bates writes:

Hi Street Soccer Canada fans,

I’m still running a day late.


We participated in three great soccer games on day 7. The first was our game against New Zealand. Similar to how the majority of our team is First Nations, the majority of the players on Team New Zealand are Maori. They’re big and they really throw their weight around. They also have at least one player who seems to be experiencing some psychosis at the tournament. A couple of days ago, I was just standing around and he started to yell at me “What’s your problem?!”, “What do you want man, what’s your problem?!”. There were several possible answers to those questions, but I don’t think any were what he was looking for. Fortunately, none of our players who have a history of psychotic episodes have experienced those kind of symptoms on our trip (as far as I know anyways).

Early in the game, I was worried that we would lose our cool against the repeated pushing fouls (some uncalled) that were being dished out by the very physical Kiwis. My worries faded away as incident after incident ended with our guys just getting up and continuing on with the play. A few months ago, at least one of our guys would get right up in your grill if you even looked at him funny. I was really proud to see such good discipline from our whole team. It paid off when a New Zealand player eventually received a blue card (which results in a two-minute penalty similar to in hockey) for overly aggressive play and we capitalized on the man advantage. But really, by that time we already had the game well in hand.

Just like we started losing the game against Cambodia the night before, we started winning the New Zealand game when we came out flying against Mexico. It turned out Richard Mountain wasn’t done sending a message after addressing our fans after the Cambodia game. Matching words with action, he lead the team’s offence with a well deserved hat-trick. We also found offensive production from Robert Milton with a pair of goals himself and one each from Peter Chow and Randy Comiso (while sporting a bandaged thumb from his injury against Mexico) to propel us to a comfortable 7-3 win. The team has a pretty positive attitude even after most loses, but it was really nice to get a W.

Our second game of the day was against Hungary. I was again impressed with our play and it was a tight game the whole way through. The eventual 6-1 scoreline flattered the Hungarians. The better team won, but I’m sure we would take a game or two against them in a best of seven series. Our goal came from the reliable right boot of Peter Chow and I couldn’t really fault our play in any particular area.

That night, we jumped on an on an opportunity to go see some Brazilian football. We joined Botafogo’s boisterous fans in a classic battle against Vasco and their supporters at the other end of the pitch. The fans put on an amazing spectacle. As I was watching huge flags waving, toilet paper streamers cascading onto the field and balloons being inflated with unending chanting and drumming, I turned around to realize that a soccer game had also started sometime after our arrival. Vasco controlled the majority of the play throughout the first half, but Botafogo came on in the second and eventually squeaked out a 2-2 draw on a penalty in the final minute. The fans were ecstatic with the comeback tie and nothing celebrates a great result like setting off flash grenades on the pedestrian ramps that lead out of the stadium.

Here are some more great pictures taken by Sarah Blyth for Day 7:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=493073&id=852065453&l=f9a3aefcf4

So, another great day of soccer with more on the way.

Thanks for your support.

Alan

Team Canada for Street Soccer at Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup Day 6

September 23, 2010 1 comment

Coach Alan Bates writes:

Hi Street Soccer Canada fans,

Sorry to be a day late again. Our days have been very busy as I’ll fill you in on below.

I ended the last update by letting you know that we were having some interpersonal difficulties on the team the night before our second day of games. We’d had a rough ride against Ireland and the Romanian-Brazilian alliance and we have 8 players and me stuffed into a room that’s three quarters the size of an average bedroom. Some conflict was inevitable.

But enough with the excuses. Our morning yesterday can only be described as disgraceful. When the opening whistle went for our morning game against Cambodia, it was clear that we were already in full process of losing. We started losing against Cambodia at about 8pm the night before. Team Cambodia have become good friends of ours. We’ve cheered for them through their loses and they’ve cheered for us through ours. They’re an easy team to cheer for. They just look like an underdog. Despite their youngest player being 17 and the rest of their team being well over 20, they all look like they’re about 12 by Canadian body-structure and size standards.

By the time we played them, we’d already seen them get pushed around and generally pasted by two other teams. I think our team was ready to play a team that would surely lose to the old-ladies home, let alone a bunch of big bad guys from the hood in Vancity. We were ready for sure glory. Instead, the ball was in our net within the first three seconds. The game pretty much continued along those lines. I didn’t recognize our team out there. We didn’t get back to defend, we didn’t attack as a team, we didn’t communicate at all, and we got out-muscled and out-classed by a Cambodian team that deserves credit for bringing their A-game against us. Goals by Jeremy Isaac and Peter Chow were too little too late.


After every game, we meet as a team on the beach to talk about what went right and what went wrong. The players speak first and then Daniel Errey and I summarize what we agree with and make the points we want to add. Usually, I try to be pretty positive and I don’t anger easily. I didn’t have anything good to say about our game. I did have strong opinions on how our poor conduct the night before had lead to our abysmal performance and I didn’t hold back on sharing them with the team. And if they hadn’t really got the message from me, they sure had by the time team organizer extraordinaire Kalin See had translated my words into the players’ more familiar Downtown Eastside dialect.

The post-game discussion prompted co-captain Patrick Oleman to call a players-only meeting. The players had their meeting while all the volunteers also got together to talk about how things were going and how to optimize all the organization. I don’t know what was said in the players-only meeting, but they came away from it a different team. Despite not being the source of any of the conflict, Richard Mountain came back from the meeting with his teammates to offer a heartfelt apology on behalf of the team for letting down all the people supporting us back in Canada. The rest of the team seemed equally convinced they had a new direction.

We had a great warm-up for our game against Mexico. The team had new determination. I was wishing that we were playing a team that would allow this new attitude to translate into a win. Based on their easy victory over Ireland who creamed us 17-1, I figured we would need a miracle to beat Mexico. In the end, a win wasn’t necessary for us to get all the satisfaction we needed out of the game.

We played amazing. Coming hard right out of the gates, we actually went up 1-0 and spent most of the first half losing by scores of only 2-1 or 3-2 (after goals by Robert Milton and Peter Chow). We were on fire. Everyone was getting back to defend and we were attacking with enough pressure to let the Mexicans know they had a real game on their hands.

The MVP performance was definitely by goalkeeper Randy Comiso who probably put on the best performance by a Canadian keeper in an international game ever (Craig who?). The Mexicans can really shoot and Randy was getting a piece of everything. Unfortunately, he got too small a piece of one particularly hard shot and had to leave the game with a bad thumb sprain that required a trip to the hospital. For a great account of the Canada-Mexico game see: http://www.homelessworldcup.org/news/canada-2-11-mexico .


We were really proud of our performance against Mexico and fortunately there were some great things planned for the players that evening that were fitting celebrations. While Randy and I made a trip to the hospital,

In case you’re curious about the hospital, I’ll describe it briefly. When we pulled up to Miguel Couto public hospital, we found the front steps full of people who were apparently waiting to get into Emergency. The “triage” system seemed to consist of a large security guard who eyed each new person and either let them in or told them to wait on the steps. He let Randy and our interpreter in, but wouldn’t let me come in with them. So I spent a couple hours trying to figure out the system for the people on the steps. I never did. In the end, Randy didn’t have to wait much longer than he would at a Canadian hospital. He did have to wait in several long lineups though. The good news was that there were no fractures and by today he is already able to move the thumb quite well.

The rest of the team went to see the Christ the Redeemer statue up close. They all described it as an incredible experience. After getting back from the hospital, Randy and I were able to join everyone else for a full-moon gondola ride up to the top of Sugar Loaf. The views of the lights spreading around and sprawling up the hills of Rio were awesome. We started the day on a bad note, but definitely ended on the right one.

Pictures for day 6 for you:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=492765&id=852065453&l=c0b918624c


Time for some sleep.

Thanks for your support.

Alan

Team Canada for Street Soccer at Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup Day 5

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Coach Alan Bates writes:

Hi Street Soccer fans,

It’s way past my bedtime, so this might be a bit of a short update (editors note: it isn’t). I sleep on the top of a very wobbly triple bunk bed in the players’ room, so going to bed is always a bit of an adventure. Our room is a bit of an adventure packed into a very small space. You know how Ikea can make any space look nice? We sort of do the opposite.

Pictures from day 5:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=492758&id=852065453&l=0987bfeca1


Today was obviously very exciting because we had our first two games. After getting ready in the morning, we made our way to the venue and onto the practice pitch to get warmed up. We had a good warm-up, but the Irish looked like they really knew what they were doing. It turned out that was more than a hunch. In a result that should surely put my job on the line, we got our butts kicked 15-1 by Ireland. The HWC website says 17-1, but that’s just not true and it does make a difference. The highlight of the game was when Jeremy Isaac introduced the ball to the top corner of the Irish net off a well placed corner by Peter Chow to make it 1-1. It was almost as if we practiced it (cough – we did – cough). The TSN turning point came when Ireland went ahead 2-1, about 3 minutes into the game. Before the game, I told the guys I just wanted to feel like we left it all on the field. That’s exactly what I felt. We learned a lot, but all the strategy in the world wasn’t going to win that game for us.


Our guys are so positive that you would have thought we won our first game 15-1. Everyone saw it as a learning experience and was honoured to have played with such a good team. We had a lot of fun between games. We got to watch a lot of great soccer. I’m calling Kenya and Mexico in the final. You heard it here first. I haven’t seen many of the women’s teams, but the guys like Norway and the Netherlands. But it might not be just soccer skill that they “like” about them, gnome sayin, so they might not be the teams to put your savings down on.

What we lack in scoring finesse, we make up for in cheering dominance. I think we deserve half the credit for Poland’s win over England today for our unending “Polska! Polska! Polska!” cheer throughout the game. I’ve got to admit that as someone with English roots who also lived in Nottingham for three years, it felt wrong inside to cheer against the three lions. The English keeper didn’t like our choice of alliance either and let us know about it after the game (in a very friendly way). I’ll have to teach the guys some British football chants and make it up to England another day.

Aside from our cheering, we’ve become well-loved in other ways as well. Yesterday, one of our guys came up to me to tell me that we were giving our shoes to Italy. “What!!?” was my immediate response. Turned out they ran out of free shoes and Italy didn’t bring as many as they needed. Some of their guys were looking at starting their game in flip-flops. Now, maybe this makes me a bad person, but I’ve got to say that even after the situation was explained to me a bit, I really didn’t like the idea of us giving away our shoes. We’ve done all this planning, come all this way, tried to make everything right, and the day before we play we’re going to give away our shoes!? To Italy!? Don’t they make shoes? But, of course, the guys were right. It was absolutely the right thing to do. The Italians only wanted to borrow the shoes. So, our shoes beat Croatia 8-6 and we got them back. Until today that is, when we lent them to Italy again between our games. I’m not sure what their result was, but if they won that means our shoes are a respectable 2 and 2 after today.

It’s our player Robert Milton’s birthday today and he requested ice cream, so we shared a couple of small tubs of it with lunch. Right after that, we went for a bit of a dip in the waves and some sandcastle building. The ridiculousness included backflips, and Baywatch-style David Hassellhoff  impressions.

Having watched Romania on the first day of games, I thought they were going to be tough but that we might be able to take them. They only had four guys on the first day, so I thought maybe we would tire them out with our full team. However, there’s a little known rule at the HWC that if a team is short of players, they can request to use local “inexperienced” players from the host country. That would be fine if this was India or even Sweden or something. Try finding an “inexperienced” soccer player in Rio. So, we played most of the second-half against two Brazilians and one Romanian (the games are four-aside, three and a goalie). The end result was an 8-2 loss, but you’ve got to believe me that we learned from our Ireland experience and actually played really great defense. You have to keep one player over half all the time, so you’re always defending with two against three. It’s a high-scoring game. We also had two great goals. Jeremy Isaac is now a goal-a-game man with his second of the tournament and Robert Milton celebrated his birthday by suavely sliding it past the Romanian keeper on a penalty.

The evening has had its share of interpersonal conflicts, so that’s been a bit rough on the players and the volunteers trying to patch everything together. The best medicine would be a win against Cambodia in the morning.

Thanks for your support,

Alan

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