The Haitian Amputee Soccer wrapped up their Arkansas tour during the halftime show between the women's soccer team of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Central Arkansas on Friday evening. The following morning they headed out for Hendersonville, Tennessee to the Merrol Hyde Magnet School.
On Saturday afternoon the Haitians played an exhibition match against Coach Jim Carr's boys soccer team. Dr. Fred Sorrells was given the microphone in the announcement booth to introduce all the Haitian soccer players and staff and their story. The national anthem of Haiti and the USA proceeded the introductions and then the teams were off.
The Haitian's immediately displayed their raw talent and capabilities through an early goal, however the Hawks showed the Haitian's a taste of their own medicine by equalizing.
During the halftime, Dr. Sorrells continued to share the sport of amputee soccer and encouraged audience members to help support the Haitian's but also the local amputees in the city of Hendersonville. The USA amputee soccer team program continues to grow and is looking to fill in soccer programs throughout all of the states.
After a nice contested second half the game ended in a victory on both sides. None of the exhibition matches are for competition so the score doesn't matter at all. The purpose is to restore hope in the lives of American's and also to provide another perspective on life. It's easy to take things for granted here in America, but when a group of Haitian amputee soccer players from the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere come and show people what they are made of, it helps bring a new outlook on life.
However, the Haitians had some bad news at the end of the game. The original plan was for them to have housing accommodations at a local hotel in Hendersonville, but with the upcoming solar eclipse, all the rooms were booked. This meant that the Haitians were left with no place to stay.
Everything seemed hopeless and it appeared that the team would have to rough it out by sleeping in the vehicles that the volunteers of Operation Go Quickly drove in, but God always has perfect timing and he disproves our lack of faith and understanding. Fred met Giscard Ciney in Haiti after the Earthquake and worked alongside throughout the years to develop the Haitian Amputee Soccer team. Years later Giscard moved to Indiana on a student visa to study at Ottawa University. It just so happened that Giscard Ciney was in Hendersonville after hearing about the team's tour dates, so he called his church in Jeffersonville, Indiana to see if they could set up accommodations in their building.
The church was only given three hours to settle 20 people so the odds were not in the team's favor. Moments after the call was made, the First Christian Church agreed to have their Grace Community Center set up for the team and the volunteers to sleep in. Back in 2015, the team had visited First Christian Church so it was the perfect reunion planned on short notice.
After a three-hour drive the team finally arrived to the church with a massive surprise. The America Red Cross graciously set up 20 cots and blankets and the church provided pillows and towels for everyone. One of the church volunteers Ralph Lee selflessly shared his time to call the organization and have things set up despite the short notice. But, it wasn't as easy as it sounded. Ralph couldn't get direct access to an operator at first so he pressed one of the options that the machine offered and he was given direct access to the National Red Cross in Washington D.C.. The operator then connected Ralph to a chapter 30 miles from the church who then brought all the cots and blankets for the team.
"We run off of faith and fumes," said Fred Sorrells, President of Operation Go Quickly.
The team attended the church service on Sunday morning and then went to scrimmage each other at the Clark County Soccer Association field.
On Monday morning the team gathered for bible study and worship. They will observe a practice session for a club team that Giscard coaches and then have the rest of the day to recoup.
Here is the rest of the schedule for the American Goodwill Tour:
Tuesday August 22nd: The Haitian Amputee team will revisit Merrol Hyde Magnet School to be recognized again and have a meet and greet after the schools soccer game.
Wednesday August 23rd: The Haitian Amputee Soccer team will take on the FC Dallas men's youth developmental team at the Cole Complex in Little Rock, Arkansas at 7pm. There will be a special award ceremony for the team during the halftime.
Thursday 24th: The team will have time to rest and recoup for their journey back home.
Friday August 25th: The volunteers of Operation Go Quickly will drive early in the morning to Louis Armstrong New Orleans Airport and the team will fly back out to Haiti. This concludes the American Goodwill Tour.
To find out how to be directly involved with Haitian Amputee Soccer team and other amputee soccer programs around the world, visit the Operation Go Quickly website.
On behalf of the Haitian Amputee Soccer team and Operation Go Quickly, we want to give a special thanks to the American Red Cross, First Christian Church and the Merrol Hyde Magnet School from the bottom of our hearts.
Operation Go Quickly