Last Wednesday evening the Haitian amputee soccer team ended their American Goodwill Tour with an exhilarating exhibition match against the FC Dallas Youth Developmental Team and a magical award ceremony halftime show.
The Haitian amputee soccer team weren't able to take home an official trophy last month in their series victory against the United States in Irvine, California. Nevertheless, Operation Go Quickly President Fred Sorrells prepared a trophy and medals in secret upon his return to Texas.
With the help of his close friend Randy Schoening, Fred was able to prepare a super roster of decorative individuals to present the medals to Haitian amputee soccer team. Presenters ranged from war veterans to professional athletes and the Haitians were elated when it came to receiving their medals. Of course the trophy was presented by no other than the Buckley's. Greg and Melissa Buckley lost their daughter Emily, last year to cancer. The Buckley's ran into the Haitian's two years ago after they discovered that Emily had to amputate her leg due to cancer. Before they left the hospital, a deep connection was established between the family and the team. Before the team left the hospital, they promised Emily that they would win her a trophy and bring it to her. A year later in 2016, Emily had pass to be with her heavenly Father.
Two of the presenters were players for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock women's soccer team. Number 14 Defender Lisa Ryan and Number 20 Forward Fali Garuba shared their account of their experience on presenting the medals to the Haitians. Lisa who is studying graphic design moved from County Durham, England and Fali who is studying nursing was born in Nigeria and moved to America when she was just 7 years old.
It was a "Pleasure to be around the team because they were so nice and enjoyable people, they are very uplifting and they are just happy to be here. You see it that they wanna play soccer." Lisa stated. Its fantastic to see the drive and moral and to be out here," Lisa stated.
"It's just really cool to see the hope that they have and the joy that they show to be able to play the game of soccer," said "Fali. She added, "It has really taught me a lot and them being here has really served me."
The Haitians met the UALR women's soccer team for the first time after an evening practice on Thursday the 17th. It was by divine intervention that one of the players got to meet the Haitian's after they played in her hometown of Aledo, Texas.
Freshman Forward Peyton Laughley was informed a few weeks before that the Haitian amputee soccer team would be visiting Aledo High School to practice, play and collect soccer equipment all while raising awareness of the challenges and achievements that those with disabilities encounter. Unfortunately, Peyton had already moved to Little Rock at the time and was dismayed to miss the opportunity to watch the team play. However, Little Rock Coach Blewitt announced that the team would be coming to the women's very own stadium. This made her elated to have a second chance in seeing the team play in person.
"Hearing these men's stories and watching them play inspired me. I take many aspects of my life for granted, making mountains out of molehills. I see how these men overcame unimaginable hardship to laugh, sweat, and grind through a soccer game just like I do. This experience has widened my perspective to the many opportunities that amputees have, and gave me hope to push through whatever struggles I have to keep playing the game I love," said Peyton.
Former player, and current manager Harrison Hayworth also had a divine moment when she met the Haitians. Harrison had to put her soccer career on the side because of multiple concussions. The sophomore who is studying engineering was marveled by the the Haitian's abilities to overcome unbelievable trials. This helped her relate to the obstacles she had to conquer with subsequent concussions. After her fifth concussion, the doctor warned Harrison that the next one would onset to dementia. With a whole career of engineering ahead of her, Harrison had to take precaution with the risks and stick to her studies. She plans on becoming a civil engineer one day and work with road and bridges.As the acting manager she organizes for the team.
Upon their arrival in Port Au Prince last Friday, the Haitian's were greeted by the press and spectators. Before the team left Haiti over a month ago, they promised their country that they would come back with a trophy. Now they get to proudly display their accomplishments to restore hope.
The team was also blessed with a plethora of soccer equipment and forearm crutches. A month ago, a prosthetists named Adline from Port au Prince helped organize the first women's amputee soccer team tryout. Now with more equipment to work with she will be able to expand the women's amputee soccer program exponentially.
Operation Go Quickly is working on setting up the team to travel to Colombia at the end of November for another major soccer tournament. This competition is expected to draw many countries. To find out ways to get involved with the Haitian Amputee Soccer Team, check out the Operation Go Quickly website.
Operation Go Quickly
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