MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - A Minneapolis soccer player is headed to Wales this summer to play in the Homeless World Cup.
The young man was once homeless, but has used the game to achieve his goals - and is inspiring others along the way.
“A” has loved soccer all his life, and he found the game meant so much more to him during a tough time. Now, he’s sharing how that game has changed his life and is leading him to the world stage.
For as long as he can remember, “A” has been playing soccer.
“From the moment I knew how to walk or even speak, I knew how to kick a ball, and it’s just part of life,” he said.
As he grew up, that passion for soccer would help him get through a difficult time.
“It’s just somewhere you get to feel like you’re human again, where you’re welcome, where your background has nothing to do with the sport itself,” he said.
“A” found his way to YouthLink a few years ago, he was homeless and looking for a place to stay. That’s when he met a man who would change his life.
Jose Acuna is the outreach supervisor at YouthLink and also coaches their Up Top street soccer team where homeless young people learn that the sport is more than just a game.
“He was in the streets and he was able to connect with a shelter, but he is a go-getter type of person. Then, he worked very hard to achieve his goals not only in the field, but in life,” Acuna said. “We use soccer as a tool for youth, in this case, to achieve their goals in life.”
Acuna said "A" has achieved a huge goal.
“He’s an excellent example of someone who came from being in the streets to achieving his goal and being in housing,” the coach said.
“A” has also done well on the field and was recently chosen to represent the U.S. at the Homeless World Cup this July.
“My coach and the people who have brought me here with their kindness and compassion just tell me to have fun and do my best, which I think I do, and I think I’ll give it the best I got,” he said.
While it’ll be an opportunity to play the game on the global stage, there’s a bigger message that will be sent.
“It’s to bring awareness to homeless people, and it is an amazing opportunity to help people and play something you love,” he said.
“A” and Jose will both be traveling to Wales in July, and while some of the costs are being covered, they still need to raise funds for the trip. If you’d like to help, click here.