Soccer players compete for the Street Soccer USA Cup
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Why do you play sports? For most of us, the answer is, "It's for fun, it's for exercise, it's for camaraderie with our friends and fellow competitors." But for a group of athletes we spent time with this week, they play sports because they have nowhere else to go.
"When I'm here I feel alive all the time," DC Knights Captain Milton Marquez told us.
For Milton Marquez, he's just lucky to be alive. Using drugs and alcohol from a young age, Milton came to the U.S. from El Salvador looking for a new life. Instead, he found himself a high school dropout addicted to cocaine and living on the streets.
His situation changed when he was introduced to Street Soccer USA and joined the DC Knights.
Street Soccer USA helps take people off the streets and uses the sport to provide them with job training and life skills.
"When you bring a team together you create a community, you create a support structure, you create trust...bonds trust everything lacking in a homeless persons life," said Omar Abdul Baki, who is the program director for the DC Knights.
He's amazed at the good this sport does among the homeless community.
"This program has brought them back into the world," he said.
For players like Milton, this weekend is more than just bragging rights. Eights players will be chosen to participate in the World Cup in Paris. For Milton Marquez, that's a dream come true.
"Something I always wanted when I was a kid wanted to play professional," shared Milton Marquez.
Thanks to the program, Milton has been clean for a year, has his own place to live, a full time job and a new family.
The Street Soccer National Championship will be taking place all weekend at the new Kastles Stadium down on the Southwest waterfront.