Little Haiti in Miami, is not a place for tourists, nor a place with shopping malls or meeting places for celebrities or artists but is home of a group of children who are passionate about soccer who are determined to make their dreams come true : go to college or become professional players.
TEXT: LINDA GUTIÉRREZ / PHOTO: EMMANUEL CALDERÓN
Every afternoon, under the watchful eye of Armand, Gomez, and Samuel, the group of three friends is what makes the club go round, more than 100 children of all ages train at the Little Haiti Soccer Park. With economic difficulties, but with a lot of heart and discipline, teams are divided into the field to work and develop a better technique, a greater ability to handle the ball.
“One of the team’s goals is to make kids go to college, they have great talent” says Gomez Laleau, current president of the Little Haiti FC club. Gomez was a tennis coach, and today already has 10 years coaching soccer in Little Haiti.
With the rigor of the big clubs in Florida, but without the basic necessary equipment, the team is working to be located under the “umbrella” of the Weston club. For Gomez, one of the major limitations is the lack of visibility of his team and players, because, in his words, “they haven’t had enough exposure to be seen by the Scouts, or Colleges”. It is also important to recognize the job of the District 5 Commissioner, Keon Hadesmon, who has provided all facilities to make Little Haiti Soccer Park home of the club.
Discipline and joy
The training session continues across the field. Boys and girls are challenging tightly for the ball at one end, while at the other side the youngest kids follow carefully – and without losing the smile- all instructions given by their coaches, meanwhile from the stands of the park parents follow closely the players’ movements.
Here in Little Haiti, uniforms are not a problem: everyone wears the shirt that likes, from a Disney Princess to SpongeBob, through the Minions and colorful prints and designs. Little Haiti is color, is life, is passion. What matters here is to play good soccer, grow, have values, make friends, study, be better people. And that is worth more than any championship.
“My goal is to send every boy and girl of the team to College”
President Little Haiti FC
Who is he?
Name: Gomez Laleau
Origin: St. Louis du Nord (Haiti)
Age: 41 years old
Favorite team: Brazil
Player he admires: Dunga
Food: Rice and beans
A word that defines him: Integrity
He dislikes: when someone’s value is diminished
Divisions in Little Haiti FC