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Second homeless soccer tourney shares dream beyond the capital, story and photos

Jul 17 2012
Members of the winning team Back that Pass Up pose for a photo with the cup, after defeating Juan on Juan during the Victoria Street Soccer Community Tournament 

Members of the winning team Back that Pass Up pose for a photo with the cup, after defeating Juan on Juan during the Victoria Street Soccer Community Tournament

Photograph by: Adrian Lam , timescolonist.com (July 15, 2012)

The Victoria Dreams isn't a typical soccer team. Along with a love of the game, the players share something else in common. They're all part of Victoria's street community.

Sunday marked the team's second annual street soccer tournament, as it played host to 12 teams from around the region at Finlayson turf field.

Although the Dreams have a competitive spirit synonymous with the sport, the city's only homeless soccer team focuses on inclusion, said organizer Katie DeRosa.

"That's the spirit of street soccer. It's about integrating people from the street with other soccer players from the community," said DeRosa, a reporter at the Times Colonist.

The tournament raised $1,500 through donations, a barbecue lunch and raffle prizes. Funds will go toward Victoria Street Soccer and finance a bid for one player to join Team Canada at this year's Homeless World Cup in Mexico.

Victoria Dream Richard Clemens was recruited last year to play in Paris in what DeRosa called a lifechanging opportunity.

"He spoke so highly about the experience about how it changed him," she said. "He's a role model to the players for what they can accomplish."

Selections for the national team haven't been made yet, but a lucky player could be in Mexico come October, DeRosa said. The Victoria Dreams can recommend players but, ultimately, the recruitment is done by Street Soccer Canada.

"[The selection] is a combination. It's based on who would benefit the most from it - and skill," she said.

The Dreams are hoping to make it to a regional tournament on the Lower Mainland this fall, but DeRosa said it's as important to hold tournaments at home.

"Our players were spreading the word and promoting the tournament," she said. "Instead of us travelling to Vancouver, we play on our own turf."

The local team was eliminated in the semifinals, but it didn't change the mood of the event.

"The whole day was so upbeat," DeRosa said. "Everyone was laughing and high-fiving and really welcoming to the out-oftown teams."

Of particular importance was the appearance of Comox Valley Maple Pool United, DeRosa said.

"This was the first time they travelled outside of Comox Valley for a game."

Street soccer rules differ from the usual game. Teams play fouron-four and use smaller fields.

The Victoria tournament, which included at least 20 games in round-robin style, used Homeless World Cup rules.

"All the players were kind of new to it," DeRosa said, adding that teams are formed with six to eight players. "No one had an advantage."

In addition to their bid for the World Cup team, the Dreams will use the money raised to pay for minor expenses, including field rental.

The team continues to grow, DeRosa said.

"Every week we have a player who brings out a new player.

That's a measure of success, that's how we recruit," she said.

cclancy@timescolonist.com

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