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Connecting People and Ideas for Integrated Development

Haitian Soccer Camp- Kids Learn the Value of Team Work, On and Off the Field

Photo of Dyna, coach from Goals Haiti “Coach Dyna showed me that girls can not only play soccer, but coach too” - young female camper

Photo of Dyna, coach from Goals Haiti “Coach Dyna showed me that girls can not only play soccer, but coach too” - young female camper

Port au Prince, Haiti: This past July, staff from the Center for International Development (CID) at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy was part of a State University of New York (SUNY) team that traveled to Haiti to participate in a week long summer camp attended by 4,000 children. The summer camp was located in the town of Akayè (also known as Arcahaie) about 25 miles north of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. The CID staff developed an innovative and interactive program for kids. The program focused on soccer methods that help teach teamwork, respect, gender equality and leadership to young people. The summer camp, started by the Mayor of Akayè in 2017, aims to keep children engaged in learning while they are on summer vacation.

The campers sit down with their teams to discuss the social theme of the day.

The campers sit down with their teams to discuss the social theme of the day.

"It's really empowering for kids to discuss social issues, access barriers and learn how they can contribute to the solutions." Kyle McQuay explained. McQuay is among the first graduates of the Masters of International Affairs program at Rockefeller and recently became a staff member at CID.

CID partnered with several Haitian and American organizations like America Scores New York, Street Football World, The Sanneh Foundation, Goals Haiti, and Futbol Màs to deliver the weeklong soccer sessions. These organizations contributed by providing their expertise on youth empowerment through sport. They also provided the soccer program a total of ten talented coaches, some of whom played for the Haitian national football team. Every day, the team hosted 400 children on the fields of the Akayè Football Club. The coaches divided the kids into co-ed teams and used the first half of each day to discuss the social theme of the day. The kids learnt how to address social theme through fair play, respect and teamwork on the pitch. Each session ended with reflections from kids.

The kids learn how to address the social theme through fair play, respect and teamwork on the pitch.

The kids learn how to address
the social theme through fair play,
respect and teamwork on the pitch.

"We hope to design more programs like this moving forward as part of The Sustainable Village & Learning Community (SVLC). The lessons that the kids learned on the pitch they can practice at home, at school and in their community. They can be the change, and SUNY's program can provide the support and nurturing for kids to lead" Heather Senecal of CID stated.

The soccer camp was made possible through the generosity of the UAlbany community and soccer groups and clubs across the greater capital region. Their donations included dozens of soccer cleats and shoes, soccer balls, team jerseys, and more. CID was able to bring the donated equipment to the children to use during the camp.

"We are extremely fortunate to have such a generous and caring community here at UAlbany. The donations contributed to a successful week at camp and were appreciated by the kids." Gina Volynsky, Director of CID noted.

"The Rockefeller College is proud to have played a part in bringing this camp together through the leadership of our Center for International Development and our connections to the soccer community in the Capital Region. This program brings together the best of what Rockefeller offers: deep knowledge, engagement with critical issues, connections to our community here in Albany, and thoughtful planning and execution." R. Karl Rethemeyer, Dean of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.

Beyond their involvement in the summer camp, CID and University at Albany are part of a network of SUNY campuses and nonprofits that will be working together to build a 40-acre sustainable village and learning community in Arcahaie, Haiti. Ten SUNY campuses and five non-profit organizations will develop educational, economic and social programs and services as envisioned by the Arcahaie community and its roughly 200,000 residents.

Contact information: Heather Senecal 443-5290 or hsenecal@albany.edu

Posted August 16, 2018