Former Haitian Initiative Player Returns to Program to Give Back as a "Coach in Training"
Anis Jean Renaud is one of the original players who enrolled in the Haitian Initiative program in its infancy. Anis was 13-years old when he first stepped onto the field in Cité Soleil, and he was a member of the first HI team to come to America and play at the USA Cup in Blaine, Minnesota.
He celebrated his eighteenth birthday in November 2016, and he still comes to the field every day, now as a ‘coach in training.’ It is his way of giving back to the program what the program has given to him. “The Haitian Initiative comes to Cité Soleil to help children and teenagers,” he explains. “I am happy to be a part of this organization that has changed my life in such a good way. At HI, I learned to play fútbol, love people and respect everyone.”
“HI has helped me in so many ways,” he continues, “They gave me the opportunity to come to the United States and meet new friends, and they help me with school. Now, they give me the chance to be an assistant coach.”
His first coaches, Jean Claude St. Vil (Famosa) and Mackenson Joseph remain important members of the Cité Soleil staff and are pleased to see that Anis is still a part of the program.
“Anis is a very good player,” Famosa proudly explains. “He set an example of respect for people and courage as a player when his team traveled to the United States when he was a young boy. His teammates looked up to Anis as their leader. He always looks for ways to give service to others.”
In the United States, we take great pride in our student-athletes, and the Haitian Initiative promotes this concept with its players in Haiti. “He likes school and works hard in school,” Famosa is pleased to say. “He is what we hope all our children will be like.”
Mackenson is equally proud of his protégé. “Anis began playing as a right-sided player in back. He is a very smart player and decided to become a goalkeeper. I love that about him; he is very smart and he is not lazy.” These qualities will serve him well in the future. “Anis dreams to become a great coach,” Mackenson tells us. “I would like for his dream to become true not just for Cité Soleil, but for all of Haiti. He can change our community and our country for the better. He has the talent and qualities not just to be a coach, but to serve the community in greater ways.”
Minnesotans Julie Monson and Lisa Baird have sponsored Anis in the HI program since he stayed in their home during his 2013 exchange visit. “I will always remember his discipline and his drive to do the right thing,” Julie recalls. “Every day, Anis sat with his Bible and his Creole-English dictionary, determined to make the most of his opportunity in America. He understands the power of working hard on the soccer field, but his commitment does not stop there. He was always offering to clear the dishes, take out the garbage, do the laundry – he even tried his hand at mowing the lawn.” Her words ring with pride.
As Anis completes his secondary education at Frere Bien-Aime school in Haiti and trains as an assistant coach under the watchful eyes of his mentors, he sets an example for the children to follow, and he stands as an endorsement for the program that has guided his growth from a boy to a grateful young man. The future of Cité Soleil and Haiti is brighter because of Anis and those who have encouraged his development.