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Over his long career as a musician and writer, Dave Bidini has frequently been characterized as an engaging storyteller. His odysseys through sports, travel, and rock and roll have entertained readers, while simultaneously giving them a glimpse inside the worlds he describes. In his newest book, he applies those skills to a milieu very few readers will even be aware of.
Home and Away begins with Bidini discovering a soccer program for the homeless operating out of a community centre in a marginalized Toronto neighbourhood. When he digs a little deeper he learns that the ragtag group of players comprise a Canadian national team. As Bidini gets to know the players and coaches, he finds himself along for the ride as the team heads to Australia for the Homeless World Cup.
In Australia, Bidini dutifully follows the tournament, writing match reports as any sportswriter would, but it’s the personal side of the story that brings Home and Away to life. The players in the Homeless World Cup, we come to understand, aren’t that far removed from the rest of society. As we learn their stories, the true face of homelessness becomes apparent. From the barrios of Latin America to the harsh underbelly of Russia, Bidini shows readers that the path to the streets is shorter and more slippery than most people think. For some, the road begins with broken homes, mental illness, or substance abuse; for others it’s a failed business or a string of bad luck. By putting a human face on the players’ lives, Bidini confronts society’s commonly held misconceptions about the homeless.
Through sport, Bidini observes, the disenfranchised players are given a chance to be visible. Not everyone in Home and Away successfully overcomes their demons, but Bidini’s rich and enlightening portraits of the players, coaches, and alumni demonstrate the ways in which community can help make a meaningful and lasting difference in people’s lives.
I couldn't put this book down. Home and Away humanizes the people on our streets most of us write off and shows the fine line we all walk between functioning and faltering. —Clara Hughes(2010-07-15)
A great and important read—incisive, poignant, and warm-hearted. —John Doyle(2010-07-15)
Home and Away is both specifically personal yet at the same time universal, the kind of story Bidini tells so well, the kind that makes you want to order another round so you can listen to more, entertaining you long into the night. —Jeff Z. Klein(2010-07-26)
The book, and I say this as one allergic to sports, is thrilling—an account of what happens when those living in the margins of our society are given an opportunity to shine. —Toronto Star(2010-09-23)
It's the personal side of the story that brings Home and Away to life. The players in the Homeless World Cup, we come to understand, aren't that far removed from the rest of society . . . Not everyone in Home and Away successfully overcomes their demons, but Bidini 's rich and enlightening portraits of the players, coaches, and alumni demonstrate the ways in which community can help make a meaningful and lasting difference in people's lives. —Quill & Quire(2010-10-01)
Home and Away captures Bidini's many strengths as a writer—compassion mixed with close observation, humour and a gift for a poetic turn of phrase. His book demonstrates the capacity of sports to act as a therapeutic agent and a catalyst for social change . . . This book has a heart as big as the game itself. —Globe & Mail(2010-10-08)
Dave Bidini's latest quirky sport story is a mix of familiar and foreign, as he follows the Canadian homeless soccer team to Melbourne, Australia, for the 2008 Homeless World Cup Tournament. Bidini does a fine job portraying the Canadian Team . . . [and] affectionately recounts some of their signature plays on the pitch. But [he] also hints at the fact that homelessness is too complex a problem to be solved by a soccer ball. —Maclean's(2010-10-11)
Art should change the world, change our perceptions of the world, of others, of ourselves. Author Dave Bidini's lastest book, the slim volumed, Home and Away . . . does. Bidini 's book is a catalyst for change. —Northumberland News(2010-10-12)
Bidini understands that sport, like film or music, can be a powerful storytelling tool . . . he's adept at finding those quirky narratives in athletics . . . that exploration continues with his latest book, Home and Away, which finds Bidini . . . rubbing shoulders with some of street soccer's international elites at the Homeless World Cup of Soccer. —Fastforward Weekly(2010-10-14)
Home and Away tells the inspiring story of the members of Team Canada and their competitors' journey to the Australian tournament, their trials and tribulations, as well as successes and plans for the future—both on and off the field. —North Shore News(2010-10-15)
Home and Away, [is] an instantly and tangibly compelling story of these [Homeless World Cup] players and their moment in the spotlight, underscored by the transformative powers of team sports. —Torontoist(2010-11-11)
One of the pleasures of the book is that Bidini meets and talks, it seems, with players and coaches from virtually every country in the tournament, and they all open up to him about who they are and how they got there—a vivid, troubling, funny and diverse parade of characters. —Toro Magazine(2010-11-25)
Dave Bidini mixes compassion with close observation and humour to describe Canada's Homeless World Cup team. —BC Bookworld(2010-12-01)