The Haitian amputee soccer team just finished up their American Goodwill Tour on Wednesday evening at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock playing against the FC Dallas youth developmental team. Kickoff started at 7pm and an enthusiastic crowd appeared to watch the Haitian's perform for the first time.
Prior to the match, the national anthems of both countries were sung. It first began with the national anthem of the United States of America. Then the Haitians proudly sang their national anthem which served as a blessing for the audience.
The FC Dallas players, plus their coaches who also played, were informed that they could only utilize their non-dominant foot/one arm. It wasn't intended for sympathy of the players or to even out the playing field, but to show the children how blessed they are to have both of their legs/arms to play the sport that they love.
The Haitian's showed the talented FC Dallas crew and their coaches what they were made of by getting on the score board first. However, the FC Dallas players did not let a minor handicap set them back as they went on to even the score. The Haitian's did manage to slip in one more goal to take the lead before the half.
Nevertheless, the score was the least important part of the night because the Haitians were in for a special surprise.
During the Cup of America championship match against the USA, there was no official trophy or medal for the winners because no other teams were able to show up due to visa and financial complications. That meant that the Haitians would be going back home with no award to proudly present to their country.
However, President Fred Sorrells of Operation Go Quickly was able to orchestrate a way to change all of that. He had a trophy and medals for each player made upon his return to Texas after the championship to be present on the very last night of the tour in Little Rock. The team had no idea what was coming.
For the award ceremony, there were a handful of distinguished individuals that came to present the medals on each player. Members from the VA hospital, war veterans, members of the ABLE (Amputees Beyond Life's Expectations) organization, an employee of Easter Seals, two pastors, players from the ULAR women's soccer team, the coach of the FC Dallas youth developmental team, a prosthesis and orthopedic doctor and a former Razorback football player nobly presented the Haitian's and staff members with a medal for their accomplishment in California.
The best part didn't end there because there was a trophy to be presented by a very special couple, Greg and Melissa Buckley. Greg is a war veteran who is suffering from PTSD and his wife is a nurse. The past couple of years has been the toughest moments of their lives because their daughter Emily was diagnosed with cancer. She had to amputate her foot as a result, which left her devastated. Still hope was restored when she met the Haitian amputee soccer team back in the fall of 2015. The team was driving through Little Rock on their way to Jeffersonville and they all clicked together instantly. It wasn't the loss of a leg that developed this bond, but pure love and passion.
A year later, dear Emily lost her battle with cancer to be with her heavenly father. Today she watches upstairs with an immense smile due to all the work that was accomplished by the team in California two weeks ago. The team made promise to Emily that they would win a trophy in her honor and that promise was fulfilled two years later.
It was an emotional moment for the family as they got to honorably hand the trophy over to the team. The smiles on their faces was priceless. As they jumped and shouted for joy the audience members gave them a standing ovation.
The second half lifted off immediately after the magnificent award ceremony and this time the FC Dallas players got to use both of their legs and arms. At the end of the match, the Haitians stood victorious. It wasn't the final score that made the evening count, but the opportunity to return home with a plaque for their country.
A group of individuals from the poorest nation in the western hemisphere came to one of the greatest and most abundant countries in the world to pour their hearts out on and off the pitch. At the end of the day, they remained triumphant through the Amputee Championship match, exhibition games and demonstrations/presentations throughout the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Arkansas, Tennessee, Indiana and Louisiana.
Of course it wasn't the individuals that accomplished all of this, but God who reigned sovereign. From all the unexpected last minute appointments to the divine interventions, God designed this all for the team to experience so that he could be recognized for all the marvelous events that took place. That is what every member of the team realizes and they are so fired up for the Lord.
Also the team wants to give a special thanks to Randy Schoening for getting the entire event coordinated and executed. Without his help, none of this would have been possible.
The team will depart from Louis Armstrong New Orleans airport on Friday morning to return to Haiti. When they arrive in Port Au Prince airport they will be greeted by the press and their people to celebrate the victory they achieved in America.
It is still not too late to get directly involved with helping the Haitian Amputee Soccer team out. Visit the Operation Go Quickly website to find out how you can get implicated in action.
On behalf of Operation Go Quickly and the Haitian Amputee Soccer team, we want to thank every single individual that has contributed to this journey and making everything possible. From accommodations, to food, to the monetary donations and all the soccer equipment, thank you all for making this the best moment of all the team member's lives.
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