Vancouver’s Eastside Sun Eagles, Canada’s homeless street soccer champions, are heading to Toronto this weekend to defend their title.
The team, formerly known as the Vancouver Dream Catchers, won the Street Soccer Canada tournament in Calgary in September, but didn’t make the trip to Australia to compete in the 2008 Homeless World Cup.
Leef Evans, 46, who played college soccer in South Carolina, was on the team last year but was sidelined because he ruptured a tendon in his left ankle.
“It was a bit of a bummer,” Evans said. “Even still, I can’t push off from the left ankle all that well.
“But they still want me,” he added. “I’ll play the left side.”
Evans, who said he suffers from “rampant bouts of depression,” lost his job and found himself homeless five years ago after he was discharged from a month-long stay in the hospital.
The group of nine players will head to Toronto tomorrow thanks to the largesse of a man who was once homeless himself.
Joe Lepur, a local developer, was left homeless in France in 1965 after leaving Yugoslavia (now Croatia).
“I was sleeping in war bunkers,” Lepur said. “It was 10 below zero, wintertime. I know what it is to be homeless … How do you pay back the people and the country that has given you so much opportunity?”
Lepur spent $6,000 for new uniforms and airfare for the team’s nine members.