A Golden Opportunity for a Talented Young Footballer
"My dream is to become known as a great football player around the world.”
November 11, 2019 - Haiti
Sheilove is 13 years old. She hails from Onaville, an impoverished district in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince that was overrun with displaced persons after the 2010 earthquake. Like many families living in the area, Sheilove’s family lived in desperate conditions. Her parents were poor and unable to financially support all their eight children.
“My family was looking for a place that could help provide everything that they couldn’t,” remembers Sheilove.
After seeing the impoverished living conditions of the family, Nos Petits Freres et Soeurs (also known as NPH Haiti) invited Sheilove and her two sisters Ismene and Jeandeline, ages 16 and 11 respectively, into the NPH family. They arrived at the home in Kenscoff in August 2014, when Sheilove was eight.
Living at the St. Helene home, Sheilove and her sisters embraced the opportunities to learn dance, the visual arts, as well as instruction in Catholicism, plus formal schooling and education. It was thrilling for the three of them to play with other children and stimulate their minds. Of course, they missed their family, but new opportunities opened for them, which might not have been the case had they remained in Onaville.
There was one activity, in particular, that captured Sheilove’s heart: football! What’s more, she seemed to have a natural talent with the ball at her feet. It is a popular sport in Haitian culture, especially within the NPH home and school. NPH provides children with the necessary support to play sports at all ages, whether they live in the home or come from local communities to attend school.
Sheilove quickly learned the concept of “practice makes perfect,” and she took every opportunity to practice the sport she loved. Whether it was recess or dinner time, she kept a ball close by. Her passion and skill eventually caught the eye of the national governing body for the sport: the Haitian Football Federation (Fédération Haïtienne de Football or FHF).
In December 2018, Sheilove was selected to attend the FHF training base in the town of Croix-des-bouquet in the western region of Haiti.
“I love the ranch [training base] where we train. They teach us how to play football at an elite level, but ly they are also focused on our education. These concepts are elemental for us who are living at the ranch.”
Sheilove is currently playing at the U-13 level at the FHF ranch, while also working hard at school in her 6th grade studies. Like many kids around the world who cherish their idols, Sheilove looks up to Nérilia Mondésir as a role model.
Mondésir is an up-and-coming star of the Haitian women’s national football team. Just 20 years old, she secured a spot in the French club Montpellier HSC, where she currently plays midfield. Like Sheilove, Mondésir came through the youth ranks of the national team and went on to play for Haitian club Tigresses FC. She played in the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, where she delivered an excellent performance and became Sheilove’s favorite player.
“Everything she does is amazing in my eyes,” says Sheilove.
Sheilove follows a healthy diet and likes building good habits. Her favorite food is cornmeal and salad. She also recognizes the health benefits of playing football. “I play to develop my body, my bones, and to enrich my knowledge. My dream is to one day play for an international club like Nérilia; however, I also hope to play for Tigresses FC,” she adds.
She always returns St. Helene in Kenscoff during breaks and NPH Haiti is responsible for watching over her while she lives and trains at the FHF ranch. Social Services visits her twice a month and brings her everything she needs.
Her FHF coach, Denis, believes she is a quality player and has a bright future in the sport, very possibly with the national team. “She can play with both her legs and she is a passer and a scorer,” he says.
He also notes her discipline and how hard she works at school. At a recent championship game, she scored 10 goals.
The future is bright for Sheilove. She thanks Nos Petits Frères et Soeurs for the support and encouragement to chase her dream.
Interested in supporting young women like Sheilove? Contact your local
NPH office to learn of the different programs available.
Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.