Athletes around the country are in charlotte this weekend trying to kick homelessness. They’re using soccer to teach life skills and reward athletes for their hard work on and off the field.
From a young age, Thomas Yon has always loved playing soccer, especially as goalie. “It's the rush that I get from making a save, diving, throwing my body around."
But little did he know that this sport would save him from homelessness.
“It was scary at times but I met a lot of people who just had bad breaks too,” said Yon.
After falling on hard times, yon coped with drugs and alcohol, eventually leaving him out on the charlotte streets for two years.
“My dad died and I was in a miserable marriage for 20 years and you know my fault but it is what it is and soccer gave me another second chance at it again,” said Yon.
Yon found out about Street Soccer 945, a team of entirely homeless players operated out of urban ministry center.
The team’s coach, Peter Fink, works at the ministry and created a tournament last year for homeless athletes from around the country.
It really is an empowering and rewarding for players and it gives him that motivation and passion to want to do more with their lives and make that next difficult step.
This weekend’s second annual tournament had 50 homeless or formerly homeless men and women from around the country competing, but it’s not about who wins. Instead, it’s about the skills they can use off the field.
You're on a team so you have to work together that's important where you can use that in a real job situation it's a competitive gave him if the rough makes abed call you have to handle your anger you have to like bounce back and brush it off and get back in in the game.
And now that yon is back in the game, he’s been nicknamed “Captain America.” He made the U.S. National Street Soccer league and competed with them in Amsterdam last September.
“It's giving back showing the others that they can change too, that they can get off the streets and changed their life and they can do anything they want,” said Yon.
He’s now working as a chef and has an apartment in charlotte, proving anyone can kick homelessness.
“I'm off the streets and I'm clean,” said Yon. “I found Jesus Christ and you know I couldn't be happier."