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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

Team Canada for Street Soccer at Rio 2010 Homeless World Cup Day 11 ( Last Day )

October 6, 2010 2 comments

Coach Alan Bates writes:

Hi Street Soccer Canada fans,


I bet you thought you’d read the last update. For the last few days I thought you might have already read the last update too. We’re all back home now and things have been busy for everyone. But the welcome back we’ve received from supporters, friends and family has been amazing. Too amazing to not find time for the last update. Thanks so much again for sticking right with us through the rough parts of the tournament and pledging your continued support.

There are more great photos from Sarah Blyth:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=494638&id=852065453&l=ba21c0b8e2


Day 11 of our adventure featured the final games of the tournament and the closing ceremonies. In the men’s final, Chile squared off against host Brazil (sorry to anyone who put money on my picks of Mexico and Kenya). One of Chile’s players would go on to be named the top male player of the tournament, but the game was all Brazil. The greatest football nation in the world put an incredible team on the pitch that was lead by their bespeckled keeper who can intercept incoming danger better than a patriot missile. Unlike the traditional free-flowing Brazilian game, there was a clear system being used by the home team. Whenever their defense intercepted the ball, they fed it to the goalie who immediately one-timed it straight up the middle to a striker who always knew what to do with it. I’m sure they make it look easy, but it’s definitely one to add to our playbook for Paris 2011. The women’s contest also featured Brazil in a match-up with fan favourites Mexico. Because Mexico had a men’s team and a women’s team, they always had lots of fan support. And it wasn’t just butts in the seats. The Mexican fans had face paint, whistles, headbands, noisemakers, and, best of all, several Mexican-style wrestling masks a-la Nacho Libre. Unfortunately for the Mexican faithful, the Brazilian women also proved too much for their competition and Brazil walked away with both trophies.


Despite falling slightly short of the big prizes, the Mexican teams were very impressive and there’s a Canadian connection to their success. One of the Mexican coaches got his start in Street Soccer coaching Team Canada. He now oversees a program in Mexico with over 6000 men and women enrolled. Roughly half the participants are women. Though we will likely never have as large a program in Canada, we would like to have more female Street Soccer players. How cool would it be to have a co-ed team or even a full women’s team in Paris? The other thing about the Mexican program that would be great to replicate here is the participation of a major sponsor. TelMex (the Mexican equivalent of Bell or Telus) sponsors the Mexican program and everything about their organization looks first-class as a result.

At the closing ceremonies, each player received a medal and each team including us received a silver plate stating this year’s ranking. We’re number 40! Woohoo! No shame there, believe me. In addition to the men’s cup and the women’s cup, there were some other extra awards for things like best male and female player, top three coaches (guess I bribed the wrong guy), etc. There was also a Fair Play award which went to… wait for it… Canada! There were huge cheers throughout the crowd from all our new friends as we collected our trophy as well as genuine Brazilian national team jerseys for each player and coach. Now, I’ve been around sports long enough to know that awards like this sometimes just go to the team that obviously couldn’t compete with the others and that everyone just kind of felt sorry for. That was not the case here. Our guys earned every bit of that award. Always cheering for other teams. Always cheering and entertaining the crowd. Ambassadors for Canada down every street we walked. Not taking a single card the whole tournament. Always respectful of the officials. The other volunteers and I couldn’t have been more proud of the self-generated genuine Canadian spirit that our players packed with them everywhere they went. Given the background of many of the players and the nature of this competition, I think we can all agree that it was special to receive the Fair Play award.

As the final gathering of all the teams, the closing ceremonies also provided a final opportunity for the players to collect souvenirs from the other teams. If there’s one thing people from the Downtown Eastside don’t need lessons in, it’s trading goods. The guys swapped shirts for bags, flags for pins, shorts for shorts (seriously), hats for wrestling masks, and acquired a huge array of items from around the globe.

Overall, I can only say that the Homeless World Cup was an incredible experience. I think it’s an experience the players will find strength in for the rest of their lives and it’s an experience that couldn’t have been provided without all of your support. To Street Soccer coaches, volunteers, fans, and sponsors right across the country: Thank you so much!

Until Paris 2011,

Alan

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

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