SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --For a Bay Area soccer league, the goal is much bigger than putting the ball in the net. This game is helping turn lives around. Soccer has become a source of hope and change for a group of players in San Francisco.
Change is the name of the game for these mostly homeless and formerly homeless members of "SF Street Soccer." It's not just a team, it's a program designed to transition them into jobs and permanent homes by teaching essential life skills.
"I love this program because it changed a lot of things in my life," said SF Street Soccer teammate Bouamama Gaouad.
Gaouad now has a job washing dishes and he's trying to find a home.
"Through the practices they're learning skills like working well with others, showing up on time, and some of these soft skills that people really need to be successful in the work force," said Rob Cann, national director of Street Soccer USA.
Cann helped found "Street Soccer USA," which started the "SF Street Soccer team by recruiting players from homeless shelters. Antoine Lagarde eventually became the team's coach.
"Athletes take care of their bodies," Lagarde said. "Once you start taking care of your of your body, you respect yourself. When you respect yourself you feel confident enough to go for a job, to get housing."
And it seems to be working. In just four years, the program has expanded to 16 cities.
The team plays in a regular league. But on Aug. 16 and 17, it'll host the other street soccer teams at San Francisco's Civic Center in the "Street Soccer National Cup."