Yesterday in the 5th story about our kids I alluded to the fact that our kids had a big party yesterday for their soccer club teams, both the boys and girls team. Well, today is the day to tell that story because, at least for the kids, it was a really fun day! The reality is, it was fun for me also, but at 37, a 6 hour long party outside in the heat can be a bit much. Anyway, on to the story…
Story 6: The Soccer Party
The first thing that is important to understand about where we live now is that parties and celebrations are a way of life. In fact, if you are to follow the work code in Haiti, each employee should get 15 sick days, 15 vacation days, and then there are something like 40 other holidays (a slight exaggeration but not much of one) that Haitians get time off to celebrate. If you do the math, about 27% of work days can be used as either sick days, holidays, or vacation time here. As an employer, it may seem like I am complaining, but I am not. I am just proving the point that holidays and celebrations are much bigger here than even in America. So, it was no surprise for me to find out that the soccer club team that our kids play on at Hope Rising (that is run by a Haitian) was planning a big party to celebrate the first year of existence of the club.
So, the party was supposed to start at 2:00 with the girls playing their first game as a team against a local ministry called Samaritan’s Purse. So, of course, at around 3:15 the game started even though they told us to be there with all of the girls at 1:30 to get ready. I, being American and completely consumed with time, got our kids there a few minutes early and we proceeded to sit in the sun waiting for the coach and the rest of the players to arrive. The funny thing is, I am pretty sure that I am the only one who noticed. The kids were far too excited, there were already 8 giant speakers and sub woofers set out on the basketball court, and they just talked and played like everything was ok (which of course it was, I just couldn’t figure out why it was 3:00 and nothing had happened yet).
So, the game started, and it was scoreless after the first half. Our girls played well but it really did not look like either team was capable of scoring. At this point, there were probably about 150 people watching the game together and it was a pretty fun environment for the girls to play. All of a sudden, in the second half, our girls started really playing. They got a corner kick and it looked like Yolmenda (Dada) scored just to find out the referee called a penalty on the other team before the ball went in. So, Dada lined up to take the kick and try to put our girls ahead. It was so awesome, she scored and everybody went crazy. In fact, Sony, one of our security guards, happened to randomly be there watching the game, and the next thing I know he is giving Dada a piggyback ride around the field. It was great, and the kids were having a blast. I will add also that, throughout the game (and for the entire night), there was a DJ playing music and talking into a microphone the entire time. Also, at each interval (halftime, between games, and really any time there was free time) there were choreographed dances and speeches given by different people who were there and had practiced leading up to the party. Our older girls were one of the acts as they had been working all week on a dance routine that they put on immediately following their 2-0 win.
After the game was finished, our boys went to change into their uniforms (I have no idea why they waited until then, but they did). Their game, initially was scheduled for 3:30, and of course the girls game did not end until about 4:30. So, the boys started around 5:00, and their game was pretty physical. They were playing another team from the area that they had tied twice leading up to this match. Herbison, the best player on our team, had been sick the previous few days, and he did not play as well as usual, but some of the other boys stepped up. The first half ended 0-0, but about halfway through the second half our boys scored on a head ball from a corner kick. The whole place went even crazier (at this point we are probably around 300 people watching the game) than they did when Dada scored. They turned the music up, everyone ran onto the field, and it was almost like a college football upset when fans rush the field. It was, again, a fun environment for the kids. The game ended 1-0 so both Hope Rising teams won their games and everyone was clearly thrilled about the 2 wins.
As the referee blew the whistle for the boys game to end, it started to rain. This was pretty much the worse thing that could have happened because right after the game there was supposed to be dancing and food with the dancing taking place outside on the basketball court while the players and coaches ate inside the cafeteria. Well, the rain forced everyone into the cafeteria together, and the DJ had to pack up his speakers and leave. We hung out for a little bit longer, and then we piled in our cars and left at around 7:15. It was a fun night and a great party!