Soccer

2018 PLH National Soccer League Championship Game

By Laura Nott

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Congratulations to our first-ever league champions, Fonds-Parisien! The team pulled out a win against Ti Goave in the championship match of the PLH National Christian Soccer League. After a 1-1 score, the game ended in a penalty shootout. A nice save and a missed shot clinched the win for Fonds-Parisien and the crowd rushed the field.

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Watching the game, I was reminded once again how beloved soccer is in this country and how great an opportunity sports are for reaching youth and training up leaders!

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As I listened to the committee members’ speeches during the award ceremony, they referred multiple times to the "movement". This league is not just about the game of soccer. It is about creating a movement. In this movement, we see communities coming together to support their youth. We see positive environments for play and growth. We see youth being trained up as servant leaders. And we see the gospel being shared.

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Before the event, the league coaches, committee, and PLH staff enjoyed a meal together to celebrate the close of a great season. Pictured above are the head coaches of Fonds-Parisien and Ti Goave.

Next month, we will hold our third annual soccer coaches clinic. This clinic includes training in Coerver coaching techniques and servant leadership. In April, we will launch our youth soccer league. We are so excited to see more and more people come together to join this movement and empower the Haitian youth to bring about a stronger Haiti.

We want to say thank you to Destiny Village and Steve and Lynn Petrosino for providing the league with practice socks for all 608 players! We have recruited coaches and the teams are starting to form. We can’t wait for the first games in April!

PLH National Christian Soccer League Season Comes to a Close

By Thonny Fabien

PLH Haiti Operations Manager

As planned, The Project Living Hope National Christian Soccer League has come to the end of its first season. One final championship match will take place in December. We thank God for providing the opportunity and seeing it through to completion. We want to thank also PLH for their belief and trust they have put on me to do the work of God. Sports are an effective way to make disciples who, in turn, make disciples for Christ. Sports can be used to transform lives of the athletes; change the mindset of people; help children learn fast; and help people turn their back on alcohol, drugs, smoking, violence, etc. The PLH National Christian Soccer League seeks to draw people to Christ and bring peace to the communities. The league is structured to create opportunities for the athletes and facilitate long-term development in the country.

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I coach soccer because I never want children to participate in bad things. Like Thonny says, Coach De Vie “Coach of Life”. When I first heard that term, I felt good because when you are a coach of life you always talk to someone to help them make good decisions for their life. I’m not an expert in playing soccer, but I was a player and I love soccer. I am not an expert player, but in talking to them, I am an expert. I’m the moral coach.
— Coach Benedic
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As a leader, I always take note of the fans reaction; players, coaches, and referees actions; and the team organization. What critical and positive things do they do? How are they responding or reacting to each other? And what do I need to change or teach in the future? I see that the winning team is always celebrating, enjoying the game, and happy; but the losing team leaves the field sad, unhappy, and tired, and they complain that referees contribute to their failure. During a loss, the fans sometimes support their teams but sometimes they are mad and ready to fight. That’s the struggle with sports. We can’t have an environment like that!

What can be done differently? And how we can use sports not to follow culture but to create our own culture?  We need passion for community development. We need to be courageous leaders who step up. We need to see how the community does things and we need listen to them as well. We need to continue to train coaches and referees training to be servant leaders. If we make a positive influence on the coaches, the coaches will influence players and the players will soon influence their families and community. The whole community can change step by step. We need a movement where we share one vision and step up to difficulties and bring results.

I was born to play soccer. I’ve always loved to play. My dream was to become a big soccer player. But there was no opportunity for that. Then I wanted to be a big coach. Even though I never had training to be a coach, when there was a team in this area, I always went to practice with them like a coach. I always had in mind to be a great coach, but I didn’t have the opportunity. But thanks to God, PLH came, and now I will try to be like I imagined before.
— Coach Guy
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Therefore, through sports we will create our culture by investing our time into the life of the people. Our goal is to see a nation transformed through sports. Here are some positive steps we have made through the work Project Living Hope is doing so far:

  1. For the first time, we have a national Christian league in Haiti.

  2. Players and fans watch the games and hear the gospel.

  3. We prohibit use of alcohol at our soccer games.

  4. We create opportunity for the players to perform and live strong values, such as: serving one another, working as a team, protecting the environment, and living a life of integrity.

  5. We create opportunity for the players and coaches to maximize their talent.

  6. We equip leaders to do their work and we engage them into the work of God.

  7. We create opportunity for players to visit other parts of Haiti.

  8. We have created a leadership team with servant leadership training and high expectations.

  9. We create an opportunity for vendors to come and sell food and drinks at the games.

  10. We create a movement of sports where disciples can be made through sports and play.

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Our goal is to extend the league to every area of Haiti. We want to see the whole country using sports as a tool to transform lives through Christ. We want to see our Christian athletes be a model for their teammates, proclaim the gospel, and make disciples for Christ. We want to create a movement of Christ-like servant leaders throughout Haiti.

The First Soccer Game on the NEW PLH Pitch: Camp Marie vs. Port-au-Prince

By Sara Dessieux

The Camp Marie team has been playing in our Christian men's league since August, but they've had to use the field in the nearby town of Montrouis as their home turf.  This past Sunday they got to play their first game on the soccer pitch on the Project Living Hope land right in Camp Marie and the Dessieux family and Laura were there to experience it. 

The Project Living Hope Soccer Pitch - Camp Marie, Haiti

The Project Living Hope Soccer Pitch - Camp Marie, Haiti

Some local boys digging out roots and smoothing out lumps in preparation for the first game.

Some local boys digging out roots and smoothing out lumps in preparation for the first game.

Coaches Benedic and Willio gave the team a pep talk after the final practice.

Coaches Benedic and Willio gave the team a pep talk after the final practice.

It's a mile-long walk (or ride for the lucky ones) and admission was charged, but oh my goodness, the fans came!  It's so hard to capture just how many people were there in pictures, but fun was had by A LOT of people. An estimated 450 tickets were sold. Camp Marie held a 1-0 lead until the last two minutes when the opposing team from Port-au-Prince scored on a penalty kick.  Tie game.  Oh how I wish you could all see firsthand how gorgeous that piece of Haiti is!

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This coming Sunday, Camp Marie will host their second game on the new home turf, facing Play It Forward from Fonds-Parisien in the league semi-finals.

January Mission Experience: Planting Seeds of Hope

Last month several people from Oregon served with us down in Camp Marie, Haiti.  They were involved with training coaches, running soccer camp, teaching English and building relationships.  Read reflections from three of them below.

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From Collin Box:

One moment that really stood out to me was the last night of our soccer programs in Camp Marie. One of the coaches called to me, "Coach!" I looked over and saw him extend his arm toward me, holding a freshly opened coconut, his machete in the other hand. 

As I shared fresh coconut juice with several of the other Haitian coaches on the sideline, I took a moment to observe the lopsided, gravel-covered field. Before the practice began I had spent several minutes pulling glass shards and rusty nails from the center of the field. But now, the field was bursting with joy. Each coach was working with their group, with nearly 200 players filling the pitch. One of the coaches was leading his group of girls in a song as they cheered on and waited their turn. Parents were watching on the sidelines. Even the mayor of the town made an appearance. 

I spoke with Benedict, one of the lead coaches from Camp Marie. He said to me, "You are the first group to come here and do something meaningful for our community. Other groups have come and taken from us, but you have helped bring our community together and are giving hope to the children.” 

 

From Arsinio Walker:

It was an exciting and very humbling experience… would do it again in a heartbeat! 

My Favorite Moment.

My Favorite Moment.

It was right after a scrimmage with some of the locals and I sat down on the field to take my shoes off. Josiah (Sara and Guesly’s son) was sitting with me at this moment. At first, a couple of kids came up to me asking questions in creole. I tried to explain that I don’t know the language, but then a kid who is bilingual started translating all the questions for me. One kid asked, “are you Haitian?” I chuckled a bit and explained that I was Jamaican…that I lived right next door. He replied “oh, you’re from Africa?” It was so cute and funny so I told him, yes we all are. After a while, a flock of children started coming around us out of curiosity. They all shouted their questions. Some asking if I’m professional soccer player, how many kids I have, what are my parents name, etc. I tried my best to answer each question, but my little Haitian translator had left. This particular experience humbled me in many ways. I realized the love these kids had for outsiders and how innocent and funny they can be. They treated us all equally; not depending on age, sex, or color. Through this experience, I can say that  I have hope for the future generation of Haiti.

 

From Julie Williams:

I attended a dessert banquet for PLH last fall.  At that event, the closing speaker said, Haiti will capture your heart – there is a place for you – so ask the Lord to guide you in what skills, talents or passions you have that might be helpful in Haiti.  Based on that prayer, an opportunity opened up for me to go to Haiti this January and help with the initial assessment and set up of English teaching classes in the town of Camp Marie.  The Lord was gracious to provide a fun and diversified team for me to partner with during our week in Haiti.  Some used their skills to teach and coach soccer and others worked with the English teaching.  We all felt a sense of unity in purpose and love for the people of Haiti.  

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Gerald from Haiti was my partner and translator in teaching the English Classes.  A highlight for me was the opportunity to work alongside this young man.  He proved to be quite proficient in English, very flexible and responsible.   Not knowing what to expect we began classes in the morning at the hotel where we were staying and then again in afternoon in a community school room in the town of Camp Marie.   Attendance and interest grew steadily as the week progressed.  Our English classes focused on simple vocabulary, conversations and games.   It was so fun working with these motivated students.    By the end of the week the students made it clear that they wanted the classes to continue.   They were delighted to find out that even though their American teachers had to leave, the classes could continue in Gerald’s capable hands.  

English skills help Haitians have more employment opportunities.  Project Living Hope seeks to empower Haitians to build a stronger Haiti.   It is now my privilege to continue praying for the fruit of the English classes and to encourage Gerald as he continues the great beginning in Camp Marie.

Soccer Ministry Makes An Impact

By Pierre Descieux

My name is Pierre Descieux and I am one of the board members for Project Living Hope.  I was raised in Haiti but moved to the U.S in my early teens.  I remember playing football (soccer) in the middle of the street where I grew up.  The street would be closed to traffic and all our neighbors, family and passersby would gather to watch.  Everyone would cheer for us kids for putting on a show.  We didn’t have a coach showing us the game, we didn’t have a referee, and our soccer ball was made from a balloon surrounded with rags and plastic.  We usually kept the real soccer ball for playing in the grass and dirt a few streets away.  Although my grandmother was not a football fan, she was always seated on the side of the street to watch the games.  Haitians are very passionate about the game of soccer.

Last January, I was able to participate in the weeklong soccer camp in Fonds Parisien with Guesly and the team from Oregon.  I was overwhelmed with personal feelings because it brought back so many memories. Our team had lots of soccer balls, jerseys, shoes, and other equipment. to distribute  The children and coaches were so happy that even the quiet ones couldn’t contain themselves.  From that day on I fully understand the impact PLH’s vision could bring to the children of Haiti.  

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During that week of camp, Guesly and I began making plans for our next camps in Fonds Parisien.  We wanted to come back as soon as possible because we had seen the importance of teaching the youth organized soccer, an opportunity neither of us had growing up playing in the street. But our plans were crushed midyear even as we were planning for our next trip.  Due to an unforeseen situation, we had to make new plans.  These two verses came to mind as we were looking and listening for God’s direction in the midst of our planning.  

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.” Hebrew 13:20-21

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

In Fonds Parisien, I believe God was teaching us how to best serve a community; he was preparing us for what He had in store for us.  As an organization God taught us to rely solely on Him.  And God led us to a small community near St. Marc on the western coast.  There, in Camp Marie, we have truly seen how our presence will make the greatest impact.  We’ve also seen God’s hope in the eyes of the people in the community.  

In a few weeks, PLH will have our first soccer camp in two different communities in our new location.  The excitement is very high among kids and adults in the communities.  Just walking around the community, strangers were shaking our hands thanking us for thinking of them. In their eyes, they see us as Haitians coming to give back to their forgotten community. The youths are excited about the camp and were eager to show us their skills as we passed by.  We are looking forward to working in our new location and we are eager to share with you all how God is using all of us to further his kingdom.

 

Highlights from Our Haiti Trip

By Sara Dessieux

Life is such a whirlwind sometimes!  It's already been two weeks since my family and I returned from a two-week trip to Haiti.  It was a marvelous trip and we'd love to tell you all about it, but let me share a couple of the highlights:

SOCCER

We were able to attend two soccer games put on by Play It Forward.  Since we don’t have a soccer field at Haitian Christian Mission, all the games are held at Love a Child, a Christian organization down the road from the mission.  Calling it a field is quite a stretch.  With only a few patches of grass and a mix of dirt, sand and gravel, the ball bounces unpredictably when it lands. Unlike the grass fields we enjoy, the hard surface does not slow the ball.  The young players skid around on the rocks while we spectators cringe knowing injury or at least a torn up leg is a real possibility.  And yet, the athletes give it all they've got simply for the love of the game.  All ages come out to watch, standing all around the field.

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I know that Sarah Comstock, Guesly and I were all envisioning how awesome it will be when they play on a turf field.  A safer environment will not only improve players’ skills and increase participation, but also express how much Play It Forward values each life.  With your help, we will provide a soccer field for these hard-working athletes, and for the little children who were playing thumb wars and London Bridge with my kids on the sidelines.  

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JOB SKILL TRAINING

Sarah Comstock and I spent a couple hours talking with students in the Project Living Hope trade school.  The students are being trained in auto mechanics, culinary arts and artisanry.  We were touched by how serious some of the students are about their programs, and by how grateful they are to all of us (you!), who are making this training possible for them.    

For example, Roudine was in Philo (Haiti's 13th and final grade) last year but she didn't pass the national exam.  Her family cannot afford for her to repeat the year of school so she is studying on her own and hopes to pass next time.  The culinary class is giving her something else to work toward during this time.  If she can get a job as a cook, she wants to go to college to be a nurse or a teacher.   

In addition, Danul has long wanted to become an auto mechanic, but he never imagined he would learn the trade at the same time as he was completing his last two years of high school.  He appreciates his knowledgeable trade school teacher.  Sarah and I left our conversation with him determined to supply his class with more tools and more engines to work on.

Roudine and Danul represent a small sampling of the numerous inspiring stories being written through the trade school.  With your help, we will keep this education opportunity available, improve it every year, and secure additional classroom space.