The Harvard men’s soccer team hosted the Haiti National Team on Sunday (April 10) in a game that raised funds for Partners In Health relief efforts in Haiti, still recovering from the earthquake that hit in January 2010.
The meeting also underscored Harvard’s connection to the island country. Besides earthquake relief organized by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, health clinics in Haiti have been in place for some time, organized and staffed with help from the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, as well as Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s and Children’s hospitals.
The game was an opportunity for Harvard and Haiti to come together in a positive way, to have fun, and to raise money for a good cause. And come together they did, with the Friends of Harvard Soccer raising funds to bring the Haiti team to Massachusetts; the Harvard Haitian Alliance staffing tables, taking tickets, and collecting donations; and Partners In Health organizing the event. Local Haitians came from Quincy and Cambridge and Mattapan, filling Harvard Stadium with their red and blue flags, clanging cowbells, and roaring as one whenever a Haiti player broke away toward the Harvard goal.
The Harvard men outshot their opponents 10-4 in the first half, and came breathtakingly close on a couple of shots, but to no avail. In the end, the teams played to a scoreless tie. Penalty kicks decided the outcome, with Haiti winning, 4-1. In a spontaneous gesture of goodwill, several Haiti players ran toward the stadium side populated by the outnumbered Harvard fans, raising their arms as if to say thanks, and both sides cheered each other on.