By Mike Pearson, Ancaster News
It started as a simple youth soccer tournament, a brief diversion from the struggles of everyday life in Haiti’s remote rural communities.
Today Ancaster native Art Moore hopes his annual excursion to the impoverished Caribbean nation will also bring hope for the future.
Last year Moore and a mission team from Club Right to Play Universite de Moncton organized their first youth soccer tournament in Haiti, attracting hundreds of players and spectators to the exciting overtime championship final. While in Haiti, Moore and the mission team also helped rebuild the roof of a local school.
Last month, Moore and his newly-created team of three other Canadians returned to Haiti where they organized a second eight team soccer tournament. Called HEADR, which stands for Heart, Education and Disaster Relief, Moore’s group visited remote communities near the capital of Port-au-Prince where residents carve out a living through subsistence farming. The destruction of a January, 2010 earthquake is still visible and cholera outbreaks pose a constant threat, especially after heavy rains.
In addition to organizing another successful soccer tournament, Moore and his crew also brought urgently needed supplies to 12 schools and secured a land purchase to provide a school in Northern Haiti with its own soccer pitch.
Moore’s team also appointed three members of the region as community leaders. An elder, a financial advisor and a coach have been chosen to spearhead community building efforts such as clean water projects and the building of new bridges.
“In the north bridges need to be built just to bring in the most rudimentary supplies,” said Moore. “The roads are impassable in rain.”
Thanks to a generous donation from the Ancaster Soccer Club, the eight teams who competed in last month’s tournament now have the proper equipment to play soccer. Instead of a ball made from banana palm and pieces of garbage, the Haitian players now have about 200 regulation soccer balls plus 16 complete team sets of uniforms and soccer cleats.
Moore said the soccer tournament attracted spectators in droves. Trucks carried more than forty passengers, many riding on the roof or clinging to the grill to get a glimpse of the action.
“There’s so much tribulation in just getting enough calories for the day,” said Moore. “This was just like a huge, bright, positive thing that was happening in their region.”
Last year the Ancaster Soccer Club invited Moore to a end-year soccer tournament at Ancaster High School. Moore set up a booth outlining his 2010 trip to Haiti.
“Many parents and players brought me soccer balls and cleats,” said Moore. “All of these got to Haiti and are being used right now.”
With the 2011 soccer season winding down, Moore hopes local youth soccer teams will once again donate their used uniforms and equipment to support another soccer tournament in Haiti, possibly in March, 2012.
Rich Mears, Ambassador of Sport in Haiti, said last year’s donation of equipment from the Ancaster Soccer Club was the biggest contribution of soccer gear he has ever received in Haiti.
Moore, who is now a secondary school teacher in Moncton, NB, grew up in Ancaster and attended Ancaster High School and Westdale Secondary School. Moore is also a poet and playwright who has written about such topics as school shootings and teen bullying. His work has been featured at the Toronto Fringe Festival.
His four-member HEADR team also included Nic Ivanson as head of logistics and two of his former students, Kaitlyn Enright and William Rochlow.
The HEADR team also worked with Rich Mears and seven members of the local Haitian community.
“This construct, having more Haitians than foreigners is a design feature of our team,” explained Moore. “In this way, the work we start will go on after we leave. What we did was offer Haitians a chance to help other Haitians with just a small financial nudge from Canada and the gift of some soccer gear.”
Moore said overall, his team’s second visit to Haiti was an amazing success. He wishes to personally thank the Ancaster Soccer Club, and Steve Grundy, who acted as a liaison between Moore and the soccer club.
To inquire about making a donation for Moore’s next trip to Haiti, call 506-204-1974 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org