We're thrilled to announce that GOALS has been selected as a shortlisted finalist in the inaugural Football for Good Awards, hosted by Coaching for Hope and judged by the UK Professional Footballers' Association and a panel including representatives from FIFPro World Players' Union and the Union of European Football Associations. We are thrilled and honored that the work GOALS coaches and kids are doing on the soccer fields of Haiti impressed these judges enough to be selected as a finalist from over 130 applicants from 30 different countries!
The Football for Good Awards are inspired by this sentiment:
And nowhere else in the world is that more true than here in Haiti, home to some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in the world - and, some of the most optimistic and hopeful.
How did GOALS stand out amongst all of the other entrants from around the world? Simply by telling our story. And here it is:
We all know the capacity football has to change lives, but GOALS pushes the football for good model to accomplish more than ever before, proving that the love of the game can create long-term sustainable change even in the most challenging and poverty-stricken environments – exactly where it is needed most.
Haiti is one of the most vulnerable places on the planet, ranking 168th out of 187 countries on the UN’s Human Development Index. Only half of the population will ever attend school. Political instability, crime, hunger, disease and natural disasters are a constant threat.
But that is not the GOALS story.
GOALS’ pitches in Haiti are little more than fallow farmland with hand-welded metal posts, and our kids often come to the field hungry, but they have big dreams, and, like any player ready to kick-off, they carry with them hope and optimism that they will ultimately be triumphant.
And they have good reason to believe.
We’ve seen children who grew up kicking plastic bottles barefoot on the beach recruited to play semi-professional soccer. GOALS’ mixed-gender teams are winning tournaments, proving that boys and girls can both do anything. Our coaches are going back to school to become even better role models for their teams, and we’ve nearly eliminated teen pregnancies amongst GOALS participants.
By investing in the love of football and the belief in a brighter future for Haiti, GOALS embodies the spirit of football for good, empowering youth and communities to make their own positive changes through the love of the game and the power of football for good.
So, how does it all work? GOALS uses football in Haiti to engage youth in sport, health, and education programs which improve daily life while developing leadership for the future following this simple philosophy:
- First, in order to play football, kids need a safe, clean, and healthy environment. GOALS responds by organizing football teams to clean up litter in public areas, plant trees and recycle old materials.
- Second, kids can’t play football without strong, healthy bodies, so GOALS helps football teams plant vegetable gardens, invests in local food production through our community bakery, provides a daily meal and clean drinking water for youth and improves community health by hosting mobile clinics and health seminars (WASH, nutrition and sexual health).
- Third, football teams need coaches and team captains who are strong leaders and role models, and opportunities for advancement. GOALS provides school tuition assistance programs for youth and professional development for local staff, empowering and mobilizing communities to develop their own projects to improve shelter, leadership, and infrastructure.
The Football for Good awards will be held in early December. But whether or not we are selected as the final winner, here is what makes our kids, coaches and programs a winner every day:
- 500 boys and girls in four different villages participate on a daily basis, and outreach to players families, schools and other soccer clubs has impacted an additional estimated 7000 people.
- Two GOALS-supported student athletes, Olsen Saintyl and Cassandra Cirrus became the first in their families to graduate high school; Cassandra was the first in her entire village to graduate and Olsen was honored at school for having the 2nd highest grades in his class.
- Before GOALS began working in the village of Terrasonson, all but oneof 30 children we registered one the girls team suffered from chronic food insecurity, defined quantitatively by how often they were able to eat and qualitatively by how often they felt hungry. By coming to GOALS programs where they receive a hot meal,children who were previously eating only once per day are now regularly eating twice a day. As a result, based on height and weight measurements, one-third of children who were underweight at their first weigh-in moved closer towards a healthy weight at their second.
- Nine GOALS players recruited to train with the Haitian national U-17 and U-15 teams; Two GOALS athletes were on the squad which placed 2nd in the 2014 inaugural CONCACAF U-15 girls’ championship
- The GOALS community bakery, opened in 2015, provides a local source of food for our soccer teams, created four new jobs, and provides an informal income for GOALS parents who buy in bulk and resell for a profit.