Mercy Corps program helps guide nation's youth soccer players

Haiti brought its passion for soccer to Portland this week for a good cause.

Sixteen Haitian soccer coaches are spending the week here as part of a Mercy Corps initiative called “Foutbol Pou Lavi,” or Soccer for Life.

The program trains Haitian soccer coaches to use the power of the world’s most popular sport to teach young people about healthy behaviors, including prevention of HIV/AIDS.

During their stay, which wraps up Friday, they observed a Portland Timbers training session and took part in a coaching clinic with Timbers staff.

They visited Columbia Sportswear and Nike headquarters to understand how they use sports to address global health and social issues.

They sat in on a Cascade AIDS project youth testing night and took part in a public Mercy Corps panel to discuss how soccer is used in health education and community-building in the Soccer for Life program.

Since Haiti’s earthquake in 2010, the nation’s youth population has been impacted by displacement, weakened social services, disease and illness, decreased educational and employment opportunities, and an overall lack of healthy outlets.

Funded by the U.S. State Department, Soccer for Life uses the power of soccer to help youth reduce their risk of HIV infection and build ties between adults and youth.

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