2012 has been off to a busy start here at GOALS. In January, our first ever All Stars Boys’ Team traveled to Port-au-Prince for a friendly match against Boby Duval’s players at L'Atheltique d'Haiti in Cite Soleil. We were lucky to have Julia, from Le JIT Productions, on hand to help document the excitement throughout the day. Fans packed the stands and cheered the team on with chants, songs and clapping. The game ended 0-0 but was extremely well played, and our coaches were proud of the players’ performances.
Traveling to the capital for a game was an exciting event, but this level of passionate support from players’ families and friends is nothing unusual. Every game with every team draws dozens of spectators who analyze every play like it’s a professional match. Small kids come to watch, their eyes huge with awe as they watch the players sprint down the field. Friends and peers keep up loud chants and songs, while parents and local residents simply soak up the ambience. This month, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we are taking a moment to appreciate all of the love that communities in Leogane have for their GOALS teams.
In some places, soccer is still considered primarily a boys’ sport. In GOALS, we know that’s not true. 50% of our sponsored teams are girls’ teams. Other activities and programs draw an average of 45% female participants. As we help to change the idea of who should be playing soccer, the number of girls in our programs keeps growing.
One of our newest teams, the Carrefour Croix girls’ team, is now sponsored by Duane Graham. Kimberly Francois, the local coordinator, told me proudly that while there are 25 players on the official roster, usually no less than 40 show up to the field ready for practice. It took several months for the girls in this area to embrace the idea of their own team, but now they’re as passionate and committed as any boys’ team in the area to their daily practices and weekly matches.
The community in Carrefour Croix has embraced the girls’ team as well. At a recent match, the boys and adult men yielded the field to the girls for their match, giving up their practice time so the girls would have a chance to compete. There were no hard feelings, either. Everyone crowded around the sidelines of the field to cheer for the girls, encourage them, offer lots of advice, and celebrate when the team won their game, 2-1.
This Valentine’s Day, we would like to thank all of the GOALS communities in Leogane for their support of their local teams. Furthermore, thank you to all of the supporters in the United States who have helped push this year off to such a strong start. In addition to Duane Graham, Sean and Kellee Glass are now sponsoring the Darbonne girls’ team as well, rounding out our sponsored teams to ten total in the Leogane area. As a result, in January we were able to reach 574 children in our daily programs!
Finally, in Danielson, CT, Jared Bowns has been an incredible volunteer who has raised awareness, funds and equipment for our programs in Haiti. Thanks to Jared, GOALS has been featured in The Villager and The Bulletin newspapers and on WINY Radio in northeastern Connecticut.
Thank you all for such a great start to the year, and happy Valentine’s Day!
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