Over the past year, GPS Foundation has made it their mission to expand their influence and presence in the nation of Haiti.
GPS Foundation’s core belief system revolves around using the world language that is soccer to create opportunities for individuals both abroad and here within the United States. The Foundation frequently travels to developing countries in order to host clinics in addition to helping to provide equipment and instruction that would otherwise be unobtainable.
Local coaches are not only invited to, but encouraged to, participate in the clinics with the hands-on experience on offer invaluable.
It was during one of these clinics in the Delmas section of Port Au Prince where Janvier Raynold was first noticed by Steve Schechter, Executive Director of GPS Foundation.
“I identified him out of about a dozen coaches participating and volunteering at the last clinic,” recalls Schechter. “I thought he connected really really well with the kids, provided good positive instruction, and I saw him as someone who has quite a bit of potential as a coach.”
Raynold was not a complete novice nor was he out of his depth when Schechter noticed him, as he is a coach for a very small soccer school in Haiti called Pyramide Football Club de Delmas.
Raynold’s clearly natural aptitude towards coaching was so impressive that Schechter decided to offer Raynold a chance of a lifetime; a month in the United States at GPS where he could shadow him.
“The objective (of GPS Foundation) is to provide an opportunity for someone who would otherwise have no access to it,” explains Schechter. “In this case it was not a playing opportunity but an educational one.”
Throughout his one month here, Schechter brought Raynold with him everywhere. Raynold would shadow him during his training sessions with his team. Schechter also took him to practices being conducted by experienced GPS coaches in order to expose him to slightly different variants of the GPS structure.
“The GPS sessions opened my eyes and will help make me a better coach during my sessions,” says Raynold. “I have already started to incorporate things that I learned, and I am passing on new knowledge to others at Pyramide.”
Raynold also joined Schechter in Philadelphia to attend the National Coaches Convention that was held in late January.
“I brought him to the National Coaches Convention in Philly where we spent 4 days watching on field sessions as well as participating in sessions inside the classroom,” says Schechter.
Raynold finished his trip in early February after travelling to the GPS Super Cup II event that was held in Orlando, Florida. The Super Cup event brought together the best GPS teams from across multiple regions for a highly competitive tournament and provided a wonderful opportunity for Raynold to observe and see how GPS coaches handled their in-game management.
The trip was undoubtedly a success, and is something that Schechter hopes to replicate in the future.
“This is going to be an ongoing endeavor,” says Schechter. “It is my hope, and I’d imagine his hope, that he could be heavily involved when we expand our presence in Haiti.”
The GPS Super Cup II had more than one special guest in attendance, as Raynold’s fellow countrymen, Alexandro Joseph and Patrick Excellent were also invited from Haiti to participate, but in a playing capacity.
A successful trip for Raynold, partnered with the success of both young Alexandro Joseph and Patrick Excellent, is a testament to the attention that GPS Foundation is paying towards Haiti as well as a testament to the talent that resides in the area that only needs the right opportunity to grow.
“I am forever grateful to my new friend Steve Schechter and the GPS Foundation for seeing something in me and giving me this opportunity,” says Raynold of the experience. “It was also exciting to meet Peter and Joe Bradley and to see that they want to help grow the game and bring GPS to Haiti."