Montgomery County homeless play Street Soccer USA Tournament

Three years ago, these men would have been passing around a bottle to relax. Now, they’re passing around a soccer ball.

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(Photo: stevendepolo/Flickr)

A group of homeless immigrants living in a patch of woods in Montgomery County have come together to form an organized soccer team, with the stipulation that they play sober.

The rules were the brainchild of organizer Carlos Fernandez — a self-proclaimed minister dedicated to helping the homeless. Surprised by the amount of buzz for the Tuesday games, Fernandez scheduled a second practice on Thursday. The players were willing to stay sober that day, too. Fernandez then signed the men up for a Sunday recreational league.

This past week, the team participated in their first-ever tournament: the fourth annual Street Soccer USA Tournament, held on the waterfront in Southwest. This was no ordinary tournament, for Street Soccer USA required all players to set life goals and allowed access to educational and employment opportunities.

Twenty-two teams from around the nation came to the District to play. The best players will represent the USA in the Homeless World Cup, to be held in Paris this August. 

It's pointless to talk about who came out on top at the end. When the weekend ended, they returned to their daily routine. But for the MoCo squad, Tuesday is just around the corner.

[via WaPo]

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