Soccer in Cite Soleil – L’Athlétique d’Haïti

“A hero is a kid who accepts responsibility to uplift himself in the most adverse conditions, maintains himself, and really does succeed in changing his life.” – Boby Duval

Soccer player at L'athletique d'Haiti, Cite Soleil, Port Au Prince, Haiti

Soccer player at L’athletique d’Haiti, Cite Soleil, Port Au Prince, Haiti

Vision is the ability to look at something and see what it might become.  Boby Duval is a visionary and human rights activist who has fought for social justice all his life. In 1995 he bagan working in Cité Soleil, the poorest, most violent slum of Port Au Prince, Haiti.

There he founded L’Athlétique d’Haïti, an afternoon program for underprivileged youth designed to use sports (mainly soccer) to teach life skills, raise self-esteem, and acknowledge and nurture the dignity of every child. The program was planned to create a safe environment away from the overbearing stress of their harsh living conditions, with it’s walled fields literally providing the kids a place of refuge.

Says Boby Duval. “I try to use sports to reach the hearts and minds of the kids because that’s the way you do it.  At the same time, I try to bring some value in terms of morals and life skills. That’s a self-regenerating process.  We don’t just do sports, we do school and social activities.”

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Duval began his organization in Cité Soleil because he wanted the reach Haiti’s most vulnerable children.

“I always found the area ostracized by the rest of society.  My heart always felt something for them. Even in Haiti, they’re like the worst down trodden people, really ostracized. There’s no sanitation. You see kids that are 2 years old eating dirt, eating nothing, living in unsanitary conditions. It’s very heart wrenching. People need to be valued, to be able to recognize for what they themselves are worth. If you can make it here then everywhere else would be much less difficult.”

A key component of the program is as basic as providing a daily meal. If you don’t eat, you don’t have the strength to exercise, and for many of the children the meal they receive at L’Athlétique d’Haïti is the  only meal they get.  Since its inception the program has grown to provide sports training, nutrition, and medical and educational assistance to more than 2,000 participants daily.  Emphasizing the psychological component through the teaching of sports,  L’Athlétique d’Haïti empowers young people to find peace and strength within themselves, and develop self-esteem and self-worth.

Boby Duval holds one of the kids at L’Athlétique d’Haïti

Travel photographer Adam Bacher, Copyright 2014 Adam Bacher.  All rights Reserved  –  Absolutely NO usage without prior authorization.

This entry was posted in Children and Youth, Haiti, soccer, Sports and tagged , , .

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