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11 July 2016
Latin America and Carribbean
Media caption: Photo 65195: A team of soccer players, ages 13 to 15, pose with Coach Karls Jodler Fils-Aimé, who is dedicated to teaching peace to the youth. “When teams from outside Cité Soleil (a very impoverished area of Port-au-Prince) encounter us, they assume we’ll play dirty because of where we come from,” Fils-Aimé said, “but they are shocked to find we’re the most respectful players. Whether we win or lose, our players play fairly.” (MCC photo/Ted Oswald)
Extra information: The SAKALA center, which has existed since 2006, is a safe space with Haiti’s largest urban gardens, a computer lab, art classes, and space for a diverse sports program. Over 150 boys and girls, ages 9 to 24, participate in SAKALA’s soccer program annually. Teams include a mix of players from all sections of Cité Soleil to help break down harmful stereotypes about rival neighborhoods while teaching conflict resolution and peacemaking principles. When players circle up during practice and before every match, the coaches remind them to treat their teammates and opponents well and remember that peace is the ultimate goal.
People from Cité Soleil’s 34 neighborhoods are stigmatized by assumptions of banditry and violence perpetuated by rival gangs.
“When teams from outside Cité Soleil encounter us, they assume we’ll play dirty because of where we come from,” says Coach Karls Jodler Fils-Aimé, “but they are shocked to find we’re the most respectful players. Whether we win or lose, our players play fairly.”
“Though we’ve yet to win a championship, we’ve been awarded the fair play cup [an award for best sportsmanship],” he says. For youth from Cité Soleil, this is an achievement worth celebrating.
SAKALA’s name (actually three words – sa ka la) in Haitian Creole is translated loosely to “this can be here.” (MCC photo/Ted Oswald)