On Sunday afternoon in Downtown, Atlanta, the Haitian amputee soccer team gathered at Soccer in the Streets to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The team was scheduled at 1:30pm to play an exhibition match in front of an audience to bring awareness to the sport of amputee soccer. When the Haitians arrived they were met with a surprise. A group of children as young as 7 years old were practicing with their coach and saw the Haitians approaching the field. Out of curiosity they invited the Haitians to join them on the field to play a scrimmage match. The game commenced between the Haitians and the youth and immediately sparks of laughter and joy were in the air.
After the match Wounded Warrior, war veteran and USA Amputee Soccer Player Robert Ferguson gave a word of encouragement to the children to keep playing the sport of soccer and to never give up on their goals and dreams. The whole purpose of Soccer in the Streets is to keep children away from gang violence, drugs and alcohol that is rampant in the city of Atlanta. This enables children to stay in a positive environment while playing the sport they love so much.
Once the Haitian's opponents arrived the game took off. A contested match took place between the amputee soccer team and semi professional young adult players. At the end of the match, the young adults came to honor and thank the Haitians for overcoming such tremendous adversity. A group picture wrapped up the day but the most important moments of this special holiday were the ones who came out to watch the match.
The Haitians were blessed with the presence of many special individuals including the Chairman of the Amputee Coalition Dan Berschinski. Dan is a former soccer player and graduate of United States Military Academy at West Point. He became a double amputee after combat, but after his recovery in 2012 he got back on his feet. Dan started his own business and chose to move on with his life rather than feed into the excuses of his challenges. He stated, "It was a pleasure getting to see such healthy athletes come and play the sport of soccer which I grew up playing on this International Day of Persons with Disabilities."
Another honorable guest that attended the exhibition was President of the Haitian/Georgia Chamber of Commerce Saurel Quetten. Saurel is a native Haitian himself and moved to America to obtain a higher education. He went on to receive his MBA from Nova University and Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida. He is responsible for planning and implementing large scale infrastructure projects and also serves on the board of Haiti Outreach in order to help develop his home country. In an interview Saruel stated that he "is a very lucky man to see the people of his country come and play a sport that requires tremendous strength and energy overcome their disabilities and show the world what they are made of."
Sanjey Patel who serves on the Board of Directors for Soccer in the Streets stopped by to pay tribute and support to the Haitian amputee soccer team. Sanjey is responsible for creating similar transit soccer projects all across the country. After witnessing the Haitian's play he became inspired at that very moment to help begin an amputee soccer team in India.
CBS46 Atlanta also stopped by to grab soundbites and interviews from President of Operation Go Quickly Fred Sorrells and USA amputee soccer player Robert Ferguson. The two shared what brought them to Atlanta and what their goal was before leaving the city. The mission was to celebrate the national holiday not for the disabilities or inabilities, but the gifts and capabilities that the amputee soccer players have on the soccer field. The Haitian's gifts and talents enable them to become role models back in their home country where they are usually viewed as a nuisance to society. Team USA is also working on an expansion project to create the Amputee Soccer Team of Georgia which Robert Ferguson is responsible for.
Dr. Fred Sorrells could not stress enough of the miracle that God created to bring him and the team to Atlanta. He wasn't certain at all how he was going to raise enough funds for the team to come over to America for another goodwill tour. After discovering that the team could not afford the trip expenses to participate in the Cup of America tournament in Colombia, he was worried to figure out what the next step was for the team. How was he going to raise enough funds for visas, passports, flight tickets, food and travel expenses for the Haitian amputee soccer team? However, it was due to his faith and trust in God that enabled many blessings his way. From the support and donations of church members all across the state of Texas, God provided Fred with enough funds to bring the team to Texas for another goodwill tour. After traveling across Dallas and Houston, the team headed out for a long haul trip to Atlanta at 5am on Thursday morning. With rain and dangerous road conditions, Fred and volunteer Jennifer Fails faced many close calls, but God had his angels guide them to Atlanta 15 hours later. The team is still in need of much financial support as they will be facing off the USA and English amputee soccer team in a tournament next May. If you would like to get directly involved with supporting the team and their upcoming tournament next year, please visit the Operation Go Quickly Website.
From Operation Go Quickly and the Haitian amputee soccer team: Thank you so much for those who have donated to make this trip all possible. We are overwhelmed by the blessings, love, prayers, support and encouragement that everyone has been sharing and cannot thank those enough that have helped. From the bottom of our hearts with love and blessings.
Operation Go Quickly
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