A group of formerly homeless women from Sacramento is using a fundraising soccer match to prepare to play in the national homeless championships.
Lisa Wrightsman, coach and founder of the Lady Salamanders soccer team, revolved her life around homelessness and drug use up until six years ago. She says she decided to give sobriety a try but had no idea what that life would be like.
"I just couldn't imagine what life looked like without those things and could I be happy? My idea of it was a really lonely life," Wrightsman says. "I ended up committing to it because I didn't want to die. But, I wasn't excited about it."
Her negative view turned optimistic when she found the local men's homeless soccer team and went to the national championships.
"We went to this event. It was a lot of people who, you kind of erase the shame of our experiences and it became more empowering," Wrightsman says. "It put into perspective how we could leverage our life experiences as a strength and move forward with our lives. I was excited about it and I hadn't been excited about anything for years."
Wrightsman founded the women's team shortly thereafter. She says they learn about teamwork, goal-setting and healthy relationships.
More than 40 women have gone through the program since its inception. Twelve have played on the U.S. Homeless World Cup team.
This year's Salamanders will play Monday at the Oak Park Community Center against a local communications firm. It is the team's final fundraiser before it leaves for Philadelphia June 9.