San Jose Earthquakes forward and 2012 Volkswagen MLS Most Valuable Player Chris Wondolowski presented a $5,400 check to Street Soccer USA on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at Everett Middle School in San Francisco. The event commenced at 6 p.m. PT with Wondolowski serving as an honorary assistant coach for the squad of homeless soccer players.
As part of his One Goal at a Time campaign, Wondolowski donated $100 for each goal he scored in 2012 with a matching amount from the Earthquakes Community Fund. The campaign also generated public support with all donations totaling $17,631. Along with the check, Wondolowski signed T-shirts, took photos, offered coaching advice, and gave a holiday gift to each Street Soccer USA participant.
Street Soccer USA is a nationwide non-profit campaign that seeks to improve the lives of the homeless through soccer. Street Soccer USA's mission is to create a community for homeless individuals to better themselves through a training curriculum that includes job preparation, life skills, and educational improvements. The results speak for themselves as Street Soccer USA has had an astonishing 75% of participants find both employment and housing, complete a rehabilitation program, and increase their educational levels within the first year of participation.
Director Rob Cann shared his enthusiasm to have Wondolowski run a practice with his San Francisco team. Wondolowski has been involved with the team for the past two years.
"It means the world to our players. We try to tell our team to make positive decisions every day. There are people out there, such as Chris (Wondolowski), that want to see them do well. To have somebody like Chris, who is an amazing player and an easy guy to talk to, come out to practice really changes the dimensions for our players. It shows that professional athletes want to see them improve their lives."
"Chris contacted us. I think the program hit home for him and its been a blessing for our guys," Cann continued.
Street Soccer USA currently has 20 participating cities across the nation and continues to expand. "We want to grow up in each city that we are participating in. We serve more than 100 people per year and we hope to keep developing partnerships so that our team members have the resources available to better their lives," said Cann.
Wondolowski opened the practice with some small-sided games, shooting drills, and concluded with a scrimmage. It even saw the predatory finisher spend some time in the net. Participant Carlos Palacio was delighted to see one of his favorite players join his squad. The deft left-footer found himself one on one with Wondolowski in goal and took his chance.
"It was great playing with Chris. It was great to pass with him and score a goal against him," said Palacio.
Street Soccer USA continues to expand its program and mission to serve the homeless community through the power of soccer.
To learn more about Street Soccer USA and to donate to the program, please click here.