Unemployed and living on the streets of Detroit, Uzi Farooq knows all about adversity.
Still, the 37-year-old will see some brighter days ahead, as he readies for the qualifying rounds of the Homeless World Cup in New York City.
Farooq, the captain of the Detroit Resilence, is leading his team to the Big Apple on Saturday to participate in the regional qualifying round of the soccer tournament. If his team performs well, they’ll be headed for nationals in California before traveling to Santiago, Chile, in October.
"As far as being in the streets of Detroit, we learned how to become hard," Farooq told MyFoxDetroit.com. "We're built for that; we can put a lot of things on our backs. So we're going to carry a whole city in Detroit down to New York and win something. That's what we're going to do."
Local businesses DTE Energy and Rock Ventures donated $20,000 for the team’s travel expenses. All games will be played 4-on-4 with a goalie.
"Soccer's real popular right now; people are playing that have never played before," said team member Reginald Ikard. "It's a blessing; we're going to represent and try to win."
Each player on the team is a resident of the Neighborhood Services Organization Bell Building, former offices converted to house once-homeless residents of Detroit.
"They didn't know anything about this, so it was an overwhelming thought of 'you want us to compete as a team and play in New York?' " CEO Sheilah Clay said. "In [the last three months] their confidence has grown."
Ikard said the experience has given him inspiration to “break through” barriers of everyday life.
"We got positive images and positive people around us that's going to help us and support us, so we're going full steam ahead,” he said.