OLD SACRAMENTO — A major soccer tournament is coming to Sacramento this fall.
Street Soccer USA National Cup announced its decision to have Old Sacramento as its host site in October.
Lisa Wrightsman is the director of the Sacramento chapter of SSUSA.
“I’ve been telling people, friends, family about this event the last eight years and so now they finally get to be a part of it,” Wrightsman said.
But 10 years ago, Wrightsman was in a different place after finishing her collegiate soccer career at Sacramento State. She became addicted to drugs and alcohol. She found herself in jail, homeless and later in rehab.
It wasn’t until she learned about SSUSA that she rediscovered her love for the game.
“Hardships and challenges and missteps usually bring a lot of shame and it’s important to be around people where you can acknowledge that but move past it,” Wrightsman said.
Wrightsman is now nine years clean but her story is not uncommon. There are 300 players and all of them were either homeless or an at-risk youth, many turning their lives around because of the sport.
“It’s really important to celebrate the success stories and the small goals and the steps that we are taking forward,” Wrightsman said.
On Wednesday morning in Old Sacramento, Wrightsman was joined by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and other city officials to announce the cup right where the 4 on 4 games will be played.
Once the competition is over, the top eight men and women will go to Mexico City for the Homeless World Cup.
“These folks are competitive and they want to win the tournament,” said Rob Cann, co-founder of SSUSA.
Some will win but Wrightsman knows on the 72-by-52-foot pitch, there is a bigger lesson at hand than the final score.
“You’ve got two goals and you’re moving towards it,” Wrightsman said. “It’s a very direct path and I think sometimes we complicate that. So when you put people on the soccer field they just naturally learn how to move forward again.”
Wednesday at 9 a.m., city leaders and SSUSA officials will hold a press conference to announce everything we can expect when the National Cup rolls in from October 5 to 7.