Howard University > Howard University Health Sciences in Haiti 2012

NOAH, Haitian Soccer Project Teaching Values Through Soccer

Lesley Williams, center, president of the Haitian Soccer Project in New York, annually donates hundreds in shoes, uniforms and other equipment to Haitian youth organizations. This year, he gave to Don Bosco School in Fort Liberté.

FORT-LIBERTÉ, Haiti (June 27) –The idea came from the mouth of a child.  In 2001, Haitian-American Lesley Williams, currently director of Urban Renewal and Property Management Services for the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, was traveling through Haiti with his 13-year-old son visiting family.

“And everywhere we traveled, we saw Haitians kids playing soccer games all over the streets,” Williams said, “and they were playing without shoes, without shin guards, without uniforms.  These were big games being watched by hundreds of people.  Sometimes they would close the streets for the games.”

And that’s when his son, Andrew, turned to his father and suggested that the two collect soccer equipment in the United States and bring it back to those boys playing shoeless soccer on the streets of Haiti. 

Thus was born the Haitian Soccer Project, now a nonprofit agency that annually collects soccer equipment that it distributes to schools and organizations across Fort Liberté.

This year, Williams brought bags and bags of shoes, uniforms, shin guards, trophies and even a net to Don Bosco Technical School in Fort Liberté.  He brought the same to  the impoverished children from nearby Décar, a small, isolated community that doesn’t have water or electrical power and where houses are built of sticks and mud.

Williams, who grew up in Port au Prince, has been coming annually since 2003 with gifts of soccer supplies.  He said he uses soccer to instill values in the children through a game they love.

“Soccer in Haiti is a passion,” said Williams, who was a soccer player, coach and referee.  “We are using soccer as a development tool to teach children discipline, fair play and to promote and reinforce societal values.”

He donates to organized programs, like schools, because they provide a structure to drive home and reinforce values.

“They are learning teamwork and fair play,” he said.  “That’s one of the reasons we have them line up and shake hands with the other team after the game.  We want them to be competitive, but we want to teach them respect and remind them that this is just a game.”

The hardest part of the project, he said, is collecting the gear to donate.  So far, a number of soccer programs in New York and in the rest of the country as well as individuals have contributed to the program, but Williams said he’d like to do more, and he needs more contributions to do that.
For more on the Haitian Soccer Project, visit, contact 516.426.6868 or e-mail

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