Princeton women's soccer junior Diane Metcalf-Leggette has made visits to Haiti in recent years with an organization she formed called Goals Beyond the Net. Here is an account of her visits to the Caribbean nation:
I first went to Haiti in September 2011. Through an organization named The Community Coalition for Haiti, I traveled to Jacmel, Haiti and lived in a missionary house working as an intern. I went down to Haiti with some medical supplies and 40 soccer balls. There is so much work to be had in Haiti that I was constantly busy. I helped build an operating room suite with various groups of missionaries, worked at two orphanages in Jacmel, worked on multiple housing projects, and on the weekends ran soccer clinics with the local kids. I picked the town of Monchil to run my soccer clinics. Most of these kids don't eat every day, live about half a mile from any water source, have no electricity, and often play soccer with old water bottles. After about a month of working in Jacmel I realized that I had been provided with an opportunity to providing a lasting influence on the kids.
Soccer is a way of life for the kids in Jacmel and I saw this as an opportunity to use soccer as a vehicle to provide other services for these children. I grew up playing soccer and it shaped my life tremendously. Realizing how influential team sports are, I decided to form a non-profit soccer league with structured practices and teams. The non-profit organization is called Goals Beyond the Net (GBTN) and the league is called Jacmel United Football Club (JUFC). The league is built on character-building principles and focuses on creating well-rounded student-athletes. We have identified 13 attributes that we believe embody good character and it is the responsibility of one of our directions to work with each team individually to instill them.
The name GBTN is exactly what the goal of our organization is: to provide opportunities to athletes that go beyond soccer. Education is the main focus of Goals Beyond the Net and therefore each athlete must be in school and hold a "GPA" of 5 or above, which is the equivalent of a C in America. In addition, we wanted to provide the rare opportunity for our top eight student-athletes to receive English classes. Therefore Goals Beyond the Net created the first English school for children in Jacmel. In a way, Goals Beyond the Net models Princeton's principle of Education Through Athletics. In addition, our organization partnered with the local clinic so our student-athletes could receive free medical care 24/7. The vast majority of the children have never seen a doctor.
While GBTN is relatively new organization, we have long-term goals that include establishing a feeder program, eventually sponsorship of all the children in the league to attend school and English school, and to provide immunizations to all of the children. We have about 300 children, both boys and girls, in the league ranging from the ages 8-16. We have 14 teams and the organization has a board of directors in the US and most importantly a Haitian staff running everything in Jacmel. In my four months of living in Haiti I wanted to make sure that I created something that would continue while I was back in school in the U.S. and be Haitian-run so that we could provide job opportunities to the people of the community. In addition we have a parents' committee and a student committee that work together to strengthen the league. The purpose of the parent committee is community outreach and the players' committee is a form of self-governance on player issues.
Anyone would like to go on a mission trip they should contact me. We have taken multiple mission trips, one including a group of Princeton student-athletes, which have been equally beneficial for the Haitians and the Americans. If people would like to make donations or sponsor a child they should reach out to me personally or through our Web site: goalsbeyondthenet.org or through our Facebook page: Goals Beyond the Net.