“Haiti is the poorest country in the world and they live in the poorest slums there,” said Minnesota-native and former soccer professional Tony Sanneh. “It’s amazing seeing this all come to fruition.”
The U-14 team is comprised of 18 kids, many of whom are orphans. But thanks to Haitian Initiative, an organization started through the Sanneh Foundation, the team is in Minnesota for the next few weeks.
“I love the sport of soccer,” says Sanneh. “We’re using it to make a difference.”
Haitian Initiative uses soccer in Haiti as a catalyst to combat the cycle of poverty. The program motivates young people to stay in school, offers free meals and opportunities to improve their soccer skills.
Sanneh’s foundation along with other local organizations and local soccer teams raised money for Team Haiti’s trip.
“These kids are thinking about survival,” said Sanneh. “The fact that they’re allowed to be kids and take the opportunity to play and bond and get the community behind them is pretty special.”
The Schwan’s USA Cup brings in hundreds of soccer teams from around the world. It is the largest youth sports tournament in the western hemisphere.