Nearly 1 million people in Haiti are amputees or have disabilities. Dealing with severe poverty and joblessness, these individuals experience the worst living conditions. The Haitian Amputee National Team visited StationSoccer - Five Points and StationSoccer - West End to commemorate the UN Day for Persons with Disabilities.
The efforts wouldn’t have been possible without the Manager and Director of Operations for the Haiti National Men and Women Amputee Football Teams, Dr. Fred Sorrells.
This annual event started in 2010 when amputee soccer was introduced in Haiti. This sport was invented by American Don Bennett and became an inspirational passion for the survivors of the earthquakes in Haiti.
The event consisted of Soccer in the Streets youth players and a group of Haitian Amputee Soccer players. Simply enjoying the city atmosphere surrounding the StationSoccer field and the love for the beautiful game of soccer.
“The players come to appreciate that there are socio-economic challenged communities even in America,” said Sorrells. “Children in these communities need encouragement to overcome negative influences in their surroundings. It makes a huge impact on our players to realize they have an opportunity to give back to America for all of the goodwill and disaster relief extended to Haiti during the 2010 catastrophic earthquake and numerous hurricanes over the years.”
The highlight of the day for the Haitian players was interacting with the Soccer in the Streets kids. The players appreciate the socio-economic challenges that children face in America as well because they can relate. It makes a huge impact on the Haitian players to realize they have an opportunity to give back. The mission behind the organization really speaks to the players.
A group of Westside kids had the opportunity to play soccer with the Haitian players on their visit to the US. Community Program Manager, Tony Carter, spoke on his first-hand experience watching the soccer game.
“At the beginning, their expectations were that they would have scaled down their level of effort. But they were scored on quickly and the kids then realized how good these players were,” Carter said. “After a heavily contested match and plenty of amazement from both sides of the ball, all Westside players involved had a newfound respect for the Haitian Team.”
While in Haiti, people with disabilities are often marginalized, at the StationSoccer programs the amputee players are celebrated as incredible athletes and heroes who’ve overcome tremendous obstacles.