How a Portland Nonprofit Is Making Sure Homeless Kids Can Play Soccer, Too


WW presents “Distant Voices,” a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they’re doing during quarantine.

Jose Campos says a game of soccer should be free.

Part of the allure of soccer is its accessibility. You can play it anywhere: All you need is flat land and a ball. But as any parent can tell you, the costs of participating in youth sports pile up fast. And for many American families, pay-to-play sports leagues essentially bar kids from joining a team.

Campos is bent on changing that. He’s the program development manager for Street Soccer Portland, a nonprofit that seeks to provide safe places to play soccer—as well as coaches and tournaments—for young people who otherwise couldn’t afford it.

“Since it’s very expensive, and we understand the reasons why it’s very expensive,” Campos says, “we’re trying to just make it free.”

In Portland, that means a particular emphasis on reaching homeless kids and teenagers—the nonprofit sponsors an annual “Homeless World Cup”—as well as the children of refugees. In this conversation with WW news editor Aaron Mesh, Campos talks about how the program works, and the soccer player whose success story he remembers best.

Street Soccer USA is one of 174 nonprofits featured in WW‘s Give!Guide. On Nov. 24, Give!Guide broke a house record by raising $1 million for Portland-area nonprofits quicker than in any other year in its history. Last year, that benchmark was reached Dec. 3, a full week further into the campaign.

Give!Guide aims to raise $5 million by Dec. 31, 2020, with all funds to be distributed to the 174 participating nonprofits. Donate at giveguide.org.





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