Our 31 person Give Hope team just returned from a great week in Haiti. I am bursting to tell the story below….
Coach Mike Czarnecki makes a living coaching youth soccer in Charlotte and volunteers for the January trip to Cambry, his first trip there….Over lunch (pre trip) I suggest a Thursday afternoon tournament to include Darivarger kids…Coach Mike totally buys in and gathers up uniforms, cleats, shin guards, medals and a huge trophy titled The Give Hope Cup….Cambry has enough boys to make up two teams in addition to the one from Darivarger….after three days of training he decides on the rosters and the boys decide on their team names…Cambry’s boys choose Ebenezer and Full Technic while Darivarger goes with Flamango…. None of these boys have ever worn cleats, shin guards or a uniform much less been on a formal soccer team.
The big day dawns on Thursday to find the Cambry boys marking the field under Francklin’s direction and Coach Mike cries when he looks down from the Guest House to see it happening to his surprise. Speaking of surprise, he is blown away at the talent of these kids who play barefooted on a rock strewn field. The first game between Ebenezer and Full Technic starts with a formal line up, the Haitian flag and the national anthem of Haiti blaring from the loud speakers. The mood is festive and the scene is colorful. About two hundred spectators include our team, Cambry kids and staff, Darivarger kids and staff, Casamajor kids and staff (who were there for medical exams) and a few from the local community. The local TV station is there to do a story. Evanson, and later a kid from Darivarger, provide constant commentary over the sound system. They are quite good and quite hilarious.
The first match starts about 1:30 between the Cambry teams and finds Ebenezer leading 1-0 with time running out…then Guichard scores with a beautiful header just past goalkeeper, Caleb’s outstretched arm and the game ends in a 1-1 tie. After Ebenezer closes out Darivarger’s Flamango 5-2 on the strength of three straight goals by Jean Claudel and Full Technic follows that up by eliminating them by a score of 4-1, the stage is set for the championship game between the two Cambry teams. It is worth noting that Darivarger’s Flamango team, while outmatched by the larger and older Cambry boys, fought valiantly throughout both games and never gave up. They actually out scored Ebenezer in the 2nd half by 2-1 after trailing 4-0 at half time
The championship game is hard fought, as you would expect, and this time Ebenezer is trailing 2-1 with time running out when they score a dramatic goal to end the game tied at 2-2. The ensuing 5 man shoot out also ends up tied at 4 -4 and with dark falling fast, Full Technic’s coach Courtney Cochrane pulls her team together to ask their advice on who to choose to take the next shot…they urge her to pick Wadley (who is sponsored by our family by the way) and so she does…with all the marbles on the line, Wadley makes a brilliant kick to score, leaving Ebenezer one last chance to tie again. Ebenezer coach Tom Gareau chooses Babby to try to tie and he makes a beautiful kick that appears to be just out of the reach of goalkeeper Guy…Guy leaps with all his might and manages to get two fingers on the ball which turn out to be just enough to tip it up over the top of the goal leaving Full Technic with the first annual Give Hope Cup squarely in their possession.
Only God could provide a script so perfect for such a fabulous day…watching these young men play with such heart and to see them in such good health and with so much energy…to see their joy and happiness…to know where they have come from over these past two years….to think of how all of you have played a part in it….Nothing I can say would do justice to the feeling I enjoyed as I took the photo below…sheer delight! Thank you for helping me experience one of the best moments of my life.