When SIMA athlete and senior Frezghi Noel went to Haiti for a summer vacation trip with his mother in 2009, he never expected to return with a new outlook on life and a new service project he was passionate about.
“The field these kids were playing soccer on was just dirt and rocks. Some of them were in sandals or had no shoes at all. I just knew there was something I had to do about that” Noel says. Shortly after his return home, Noel knew he wanted to start a program that would allow people to donate their used soccer equipment to help kids interested in the game in underprivileged areas. Last year, he was able to make that dream a reality by creating Soccer With Dignity – a nonprofit organization with the goal of “facilitating the dreams of soccer players in impoverished communities by delivering the equipment required to play the beautiful game” according to the Soccer With Dignity website.
Since that time, Noel has recruited four other schools to help with his mission and has even instituted a board of directors. They hope to have their first collection ready to go by December and plan on making a trip to Haiti to deliver everything they have collected. Noel says he can’t wait until the day they deliver all of the supplies and he sees the looks on their faces. “All of these kids in Haiti are SO talented,” Noel said, “they just don’t have the tools they need to be successful. If they did, just think how much greater they would be. I want to help give them that opportunity.”
For now, Noel and his colleagues are focusing on collecting goods for kids in Haiti, but they hope to expand the program to local areas as well. If you’re interested in donating soccer equipment (athletic shirts, cleats, soccer balls, gear bags, etc.) or contributing a cash gift for Noel’s cause, visit soccerwithdignity.org.