My father was born in Haiti. He moved to the states when he was eight. Life, for him, wasn’t easy growing up. His parents spoke little English and worked long hours for little pay to put him through school, and it was his job to shoulder the responsibility of creating a better life for both himself and for his future family. But, as he would teach me twenty years later, that burden could easily be turned into motivation. He instilled in me at that young age that not only I ought to strive for greatness in all that I do but also to never take anything for granted.

Coincidentally, those character building lessons would happen over a backyard kick-around; a tradition that would not only foster my love for the game but also strengthen my relationship with my father. Very quickly soccer became much more than a game for me. It became a way to make friends, a way to escape the hardships of life or school, and a platform on which my parents and I could always build a conversation.

Before I could stop it, my life had become intertwined with the game and suddenly we were inseparable. When I was angry, I went to play; when I was sad, I went to play; when I was happy, I went to play and so on and so forth. Now, with the advantage of hindsight and reflection, I can understand why I have such a passion and such a desire to teach it to others. I want other kids to have the game of soccer as an outlet the same way I did. I want other kids to feel the thrill of success and learn the sweetness of perseverance after facing the bitterness of defeat.

That’s why I donated to and will forever support GOALS, Haiti. As a Haitian-American soccer player, nothing could be closer to my heart than an organization that combines my love for my country with my love for the game. More than that, I believe soccer is a medium through which all kids can find joy, acceptance, fun, and happiness. Soccer truly is a beautiful game, not just because of how it is elegantly played on the field, but because of how it unites us off the field.       - Alex Charles