TORONTO, ONTARIO—The Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) formally announces that Haiti has been approved to become its 55th member nation. FIL membership voted to accept Haiti as an associate member during its recent biennial general assembly meetings that took place on July 4th and 5th, just before the 2016 FIL U19 Men’s Lacrosse World Championship in Coquitlam, BC.
FIL Director of Development, Tom Hayes, is excited about the growth of lacrosse in Haiti’s region, “The FIL is pleased to see the Haitian Federation of Lacrosse become its 55th member. Lacrosse in this region is growing. I believe we now have six member nations there. It’s great to see.” Haiti joins Bermuda, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Jamaica and Mexico as FIL members in Central America and the Caribbean.
Origin of the Haitian Federation of Lacrosse
Emmanuel Charles brought the sport to Haiti in 2012 after seeing a friend, Mathieu Étienne, playing lacrosse while Charles was visiting with Étienne in the United States.
Lacrosse in Haiti started off with a few sticks and some basic instruction and grew to two teams playing on playgrounds in Port-au-Prince in 2013.
The enthusiasm with kids in the area was growing rapidly, but there was no way to keep up with demand. Fundamental questions regarding equipment, coaching, practice and game play facilities needed answers
The Canadian Lacrosse Association and Lacrosse Costa Rica generously donated equipment, but Charles concluded that the only way to advance the sport was to create a formal association. He met with a core group of like-minded lacrosse enthusiasts in December of 2013 that included Élisée Geffrard, Robinson Étienne, Marc-Antoine Geffrard, Josue Remilien, Charles Bernardin Joachim, Edieu Seide, Volmy Simon, Wilna Dorsainvil, Nicole Vigne and Sherlande Borgelin.
Out of this very productive meeting and much follow-up work came many impressive accomplishments. These accomplishments included the formation of the Fédération Haïtienne de Lacrosse or FHL (Haitian Federation of Lacrosse), direct support for lacrosse development from the Haitian Ministry of Youth. Sports and Civic Action, and direct access to the Sport for Hope Centre, the nation’s top athletic facility which opened in July of 2014 as a result of the efforts of the Haitian government and the International Olympic Committee’s Sport for Hope program.
“I came away very optimistic about the future of lacrosse in Haiti, and – even more so – inspired..." —Kevin Dugan
In September of 2015, FIL sent Haiti its first equipment grant and followed that up with a 15-day clinic in November. Kevin Dugan, a FIL Development Committee member, longtime developer of the sport and positive social impact leader in emerging nations like El Salvador, Ecuador, Jamaica, and Uganda through his Fields of Growth | Athlete Volunteer Corps organizations, ran the clinic for the FHL.
“My biggest takeaway from the Haiti clinics was how impressed I am with the young leadership team at the Haitian Federation of Lacrosse,” said Dugan. “The group is smart, well-educated, their administrative skills are very strong.”
Dugan continued, “The Ministry of Youth. Sports and Civic Action in Haiti and the Haitian Olympic Committee (Comité Olympique Haïtien) already recognizes their federation. The FHL has also secured access to the Sport for Hope Centre. This foundation of the Haitian government, UN and NOC support provides a solid starting point to grow the game of lacrosse throughout the country."
Through the Sport for Hope Centre facility, the Haitian Federation of Lacrosse has access to classrooms and meeting space, an equipment storage room, showers and locker room facilities, a dining hall and a new synthetic turf field.
“The Sport for Hope Centre facility also helps to fill the United Nation's double mandate of serving the Haitian Olympic team and impacting youth with the Olympic ideals and benefits inherent in healthy sporting activities,” Dugan explained.
Dugan concluded, “I came away very optimistic about the future of lacrosse in Haiti, and – even more so – inspired by the work the United Nations and the Haiti Olympic program has done to use sport as a tool for human development.”
In May of 2016, the FHL received its second FIL equipment grant of 30 helmets, sticks and gloves.
Currently, the Haitian Federation of Lacrosse has eight teams playing lacrosse with three teams in Gonaïves, two teams in Gros-Morne, and one team in Léogâne joining the original two teams in Port-au-Prince.