Sport for Hope Centre in Haiti celebrates first anniversary
Exactly one year ago today, the Sport for Hope Centre in Port-au-Prince opened its doors to all Haitians. A multisport complex with state-of-the-art facilities, the Centre has since been abuzz with activities, athletes and sports enthusiasts, and igniting new passions particularly among the young generation.
Since last July, the Sport for Hope Centre has hosted numerous sports camps for children and young athletes, as well as educational workshops, technical seminars for coaches and dedicated workshops for sports journalists.
The Centre has seen generous support from the Olympic Movement, International Sports Federations and the Government of Haiti, which have provided land, sports equipment, gear and infrastructure as well as expertise. It now includes training facilities for over a dozen Olympic sports, in addition to classrooms, medical and fitness centres, changing rooms, offices and accommodation.
The organisation of a five-week sports camp in the summer of 2014, just a month after the Centre opened, illustrated the power of sport to change the lives of people, particularly the younger generation.
Welcoming each week up to 100 young Haitians, the Centre provides a unique chance for local young people to discover and practise different sports with the guidance of a qualified coach. The summer sports camp, however, for one particular boy was much more than just an introduction to sport. For Patrick Pierre Chéry, it sparked a new passion for sport, and, in particular, for table tennis.
According to his coach, Vladimyr Mathieu – an Olympic Solidarity scholarship holder –, the young man showed a great aptitude for table tennis right from the start, going on to win his group championship that was held at the end of the camp. With this newly discovered talent, Patrick was eager to continue playing, but also to teach his friends some skills and to help them to create their own equipment. Patrick even created his very own “Patrick Pierre Chéry Table Tennis Club”, putting into practice what he had just learnt at the camp.
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What better illustration of the inspiration and hope provided by the Centre and Patrick than the 400 children who were able to learn table tennis under the supervision of 27 coaches, recently trained during a seminar of the Haitian Federation? And all this on the occasion of the first ever World Table Tennis Day, launched on 6 April by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).
In January 2015, meanwhile, the Centre hosted the first ever introductory coaching course organised by the Haitian Hockey Federation, supported by the Pan-American Hockey Federation and the International Hockey Federation (FIH), and aimed at the national sports federations. Over four days, 42 Haitian coaches were introduced to what was a brand new sport for them, its rules and techniques, and the creation of a hockey programme and a team.
A few months earlier, in September 2014, about 20 coaches took part in rugby coaching clinics organised by the Centre to bring together potential rugby coaches from communities across Haiti, and with support from World Rugby and the North American Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA). Eager to play and coach, the participants had formed a committee to organise rugby, plan their first tournament and form a Rugby Federation. Looking into the future of rugby in Haiti, the Centre plans to use World Rugby's Get Into Rugby programme to engage over 400 children in rugby over the next few months.
One year after its opening, the Sport for Hope Centre in Haiti demonstrates more than ever that, through sport, we can make tomorrow’s future brighter for everyone, everywhere across the world.
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