News / Americas

Haitian Soccer Amputees Assist Wounded US Soldiers

Parke Brewer

Members of a Haitian amputee soccer team were in Washington this week to conduct clinics for wounded American troops from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  It was the Haitians' way of saying thank you to the U.S. military for providing assistance to Haiti after the devastating earthquake last year.

It’s called the Haitian Inspiration Tour, and nearly all members of the "Team Zaryen" soccer team lost limbs in the 2010 earthquake.  The team's visit is being co-sponsored by a U.S. service group, the Knights of Columbus.

Pat Korten is the group's spokesman and told VOA about the impact the team is having.

"Many of them were playing soccer before the earthquake, before they lost their limbs.  Now they're relearning how to do that, and showing everybody in Haiti," Korten explained. "This is a big deal in Haiti. Everybody's watching.  Everybody knows about this in Haiti.  These guys are ambassadors to the United States this week and everybody is really happy about that."

Life goes on

Team Zaryen’s founder and captain is Wilfried Macena, 27, who lost his right leg in the earthquake.   

“I did not know if I could play soccer anymore when I got physical therapy by Medishare hospital in Haiti, and I felt very confident and used my crutches very well and I saw I could play soccer again,” Macena said.

Zaryen is the Creole word for tarantula and Macena explained the team's special jersey logo.

“One side has four legs.  The other side has three legs.  That means if that spider [tarantula] lost one leg, his life still continues.  You can do everything like you have two legs," he explained.

Got skills?

It was clear the Haitian soccer players are skilled, as they demonstrated a number of drills for the amputees in the U.S. military.

Bradley Ritland, the head of physical therapy for amputees at the Walter Reed Medical Center outside Washington, said it was inspiring.

“It’s been an outstanding experience for their team as well as our guys," Ritland said. "I think a lot of our guys see the positive outlook on the patients from Haiti, and see how they’re dealing with their injuries and how through sport they’re able to maintain a positive outlook.”

The Haitian team played an exhibition game here in Washington against the U.S. national amputee soccer team.  For all matches, prosthetics are removed and left on the sideline.  Players use their one good leg and their crutches to move the ball.  Goalkeepers have both legs but only one arm.

Newfound love

Army First Lieutenant Cameron Kerr, who lost part of his left leg in Afghanistan early this year when he stepped on an explosive device (IED), said he played soccer when he was younger and now has a newfound love for the game.

"Especially in those first few months of recovery you come back from Afghanistan, you’re missing a leg or two, or like an arm and two legs, you just don’t know what life is going to hold for you in the future," Kerr said.  "So this is pretty critical, events like this, and adaptive sports like this are instrumental in helping us see what’s possible, and then helping us get there too.  So not only seeing that it’s an option, but really helping us in terms of the training, and the actual fun of playing soccer again."

Kerr added that he and other amputees have to get used to what they call the new normal - that is, realizing that their legs are not going to grow back, and they need to keep pushing ahead and making the best of it.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

Argentina Passes Bill to Revamp Spy Agency After Prosecutor's Death

President Cristina Fernandez says new state security body will be more accountable but government opponents say legislation does little more than change name of spy agency
More

US, Cuba Set for 2nd Round of Talks on Diplomatic Ties

Negotiations in Washington, which follow initial meeting in Havana in January, to include discussion on reopening embassies
More

Obama Defends Immigration Plan

During Town Hall at Spanish language station Telemundo in Miami, US president insists he was within his rights to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation
More

Video Trade, Travel, More at Stake When US-Cuba Talks Resume

Cuban market is small, but it's one that many American companies want access to, observers note
More

Vatican: Pope's Mexico Remark Not Meant to Offend

Expression 'avoiding Mexicanization' was used by Pope Francis in strictly private email reply to Argentinian friend
More

Argentine Spy in Nisman Case Accused of Smuggling

Government says Antonio Stiusso secretly imported metric tons of unidentified goods whose destination remains unknown
More