DeAndre Harrison, 21, plucks kids off the toughest streets in Atlanta, Georgia and gives them the chance to play withSoccer in the Streets and learn to be referees and coaches – for most, their first-ever real jobs.
Harrison is the program coordinator for Soccer in the Streets, that saved him as a child from the slums of Atlanta and took him to Clayton State University and even to two World Cup festivals as a representative for the USA. Now Harrison is committed to helping other kids find their way up and out of the desperation of drugs, gangs and violence through soccer and into paying jobs.
“Soccer is a sport that ends wars,” said Harrison.”
Some of Harrison’s young players are homeless, some have parents in jail, some have nothing to eat and some are in trouble. In 2011, Soccer in the Streets worked with over 1,300 boys and girls ages 4-18 at 12 locations around Atlanta. One of the sites Harrison manages is at an old Hostess Bakery factory converted to a huge homeless and battered women’s shelter where many young kids and teenagers live. At sites like that where there aren’t soccer fields, the kids play futsal (five-a-side soccer) in basketball courts. The soccer training is free.
L.E. Eisenmenger, National Soccer Examiner