Our second year of camp in Haiti has concluded and we were able to build off of the successes of our first campaign. Instead of holding one camp for all players we split into a morning and afternoon format with 40 children for each session. It made for very long, hot days for the coaches but it was much better to separate the age groups and decrease the number of players on the field at a time. We were also able to use the stadium in Gressier which has a much better playing surface and we had a higher level of security with a wall surrounding the field. The stands with shade for water breaks and snack were a plus as well!
In 2016 we saw many familiar faces and also an increase in talent. We made some new friends among the local soccer coaching scene and we look forward to working with them in 2017.
In July of 2015 an idea five years in the making came true when our first camp was held in Gressier, Haiti. Camp ran Wednesday, July 9 to Saturday, July 11 in the heat of the afternoon. Next Summer we will certainly be playing in the morning before the oppressive heat rolls in. There were 61 players aged 8-14 who played hard for 3 hours each day. With no water at the field we brought in water for the kids each day. On the first day our water breaks were a bit chaotic as kids likely feared there would not be enough but as the week went on there was much more order. Each day after the futball/soccer was over the kids walked with us to a children’s home nearby where we ate dinner. for many of these children it was the first time they had eaten chicken or eaten until they were full. Every child received a numbered Freedom FC Haiti T-shirt as they would have at any sports camp in the United States. Several players also received medals and trophy balls for skills competitions and for our tournament top goal scorer. Our winning tournament team, FC Bayern, won new Adidas balls that were used at camp. for many of our players they had used a real ball for the first time that week. very few had cleats to wear and many shoes were repaired using duct tape on the side of the field. broken shoes were not the only things to interrupt camp as the field, which was mostly dirt, was also a popular pathway for pedestrian traffic and motorcycles alike while the few patches of grass were used as a grazing field for goats on Thursday. Though there were difficulties along the way and a few stressful situations I have been told that the people of Gressier are talking about camp next Summer already. Our first year experience solidified our theme for us: One Vision, One Ball, One World.