Picking just ten highlights for this list was challenging. After all, every single day, hundreds of kids become a little healthier, stronger, and more confident through GOALS' soccer, nutrition and education programs which change lives in Haiti through soccer every day. A few things that just narrowly missed making the top ten? Two new composting projects, Joelle's week of bookmaking, Connor's karate class and bringing soccer and health lessons to two orphanages. 2013 may have been our best year yet, but it's nothing compared to what we anticipate achieving in 2014!
Let's get to it. Here's our top ten favorite moments of 2013:
10. Hiring two new women!
We started the year with one awesome female coach, and we’re so proud to be ending the year with not one, not two, but THREE fantastic female coaches and role models for our youth. Welcome, coaches Dina and Mildred!
9. Winning this GIANT trophy
Of course, we love trophies, but this trophy also won a spot for 7 of our girls to attend the national youth football training academy. Along with the chance to play football for the national team, these girls now receive a free education through the academy.
In partnership with a local medical clinic and visiting doctors, 165 girls met privately with nurses to learn about their health, 325 people received medical care through our mobile medical clinics, hundreds of community members were screened for chronic diseases, and 400 kids received deworming medication!
7. Alumni beach clean-ups
One of our best measures of success is when our programs continue to grow completely organically. GOALS alumni Vicky has formed his own local soccer team, and we loved seeing him and his team lead community beach clean-up days this year!
6. Giving toothbrushes to these two
Our traveling outreach program brought GOALS' unique and fun approach to health, hygiene, and community empowerment to four remote sites this year, including the island of Ile Gonave, where these two girls (and hundreds more!) received health lessons, a day of sports activities designed to empower young women, and of course, toothbrushes!
5. This superstar goalie
Meet Olsen, one of our star scholarship students. At the end of the school year, Olsen's school director called to congratulate GOALS. Why? Upon receiving his school's national exam scores, Olsen scored second highest in the entire school. Now that's something to be proud of.
4. Football for Hope + Beyond Sport + Beyond Soccer
Winning the 2012 Beyond Sport Best New Project Award and joining the streetfootballworld network opened up new doors for GOALS in 2013, including the chance to represent our work on the international stage alongside thousands of athletes and visionaries at Beyond Sport, Beyond Soccer and the Football for Hope Exchange Program. We're proud to be recognized as one of the leading sport-for-development organizations in the world and we're humbled to have the opportunity to learn from other innovators in the field.
3. Coach training with Coaches Across Continents
Coaches Across Continents is an award-winning program that's used all around the world to teach lifeskills, health lessons, gender empowerment and conflict resolution on the pitch. Along with these important lessons, it also teaches some fancy footwork skills and it even taught us a "Gangnam Style" game (remember Gangnam Style?) We're thrilled that the GOALS Haiti / Coaches Across Continents love-fest, er, fantastic partnership, will continue on in 2014 and grow to reach even beyond our coaches and programs in Leogane. Stay tuned!
2. Our first mixed gender match!
Mixed gender teams and matches are a great way to empower young women through sport, proving to both players and onlookers alike that girls can do anything! In 2013, we added our second mixed-gender team and held our first mixed gender match in front of hundreds of parents and fans. They loved it! We're looking forward to adding our third mixed-gender team in 2014, and holding plenty more mixed matches!
1. Announcing plans to construct a GOALS community center!
If there was one blog post we could wait to hit ”publish” on this year, it was announcing our plans to construct a new community center in the rural village of Destra. Shaping this dream was a 2013 highlight, but we've yet to reach our fundraising goal to make it a reality in 2014. Please consider contributing to this step on the path to recovery for one rural village in Haiti. Your gift will help transform the village of Destra and provide a huge boost for the local economy, and every dollar donated makes a big difference.