Baptist group helps Haitian amputee soccer team
George Henson, Associated Baptist Press
October 22, 2010

Baptist group helps Haitian amputee soccer team

Baptist group helps Haitian amputee soccer team
George Henson, Associated Baptist Press
October 22, 2010

DALLAS — Helping a team of

amputee soccer players get to their World Cup venue might not seem like

disaster relief, but Dick Talley with Texas

Baptist Men (TBM) said that is exactly what it is.

“We see this as an extension

of our disaster-relief ministry,” Talley said. “In Haiti, if you have (a choice

between feeding) a dog and a handicapped person, you feed the dog because it

has value.

“How do we change the way

the people of Haiti look at an amputee or handicapped person? We’re trying to

do that through sport. In the eyes of the people of Haiti, we are elevating the

value of these people.”

Fred Sorrells of First

Baptist Church in Kingsland, Texas, worked with handicapped people in

Haiti even before the Jan. 12 earthquake there swelled their numbers.

“In Haiti, to be disabled is

to be castoff. The general feeling is, ‘Why don’t you just go off somewhere and

die?’” he said.

Recognizing the importance

of sports in Haiti, he began searching the Internet for a viable sport for

people with disabilities and came across the World

Amputee Soccer Association. As he began to inquire about it, Sorrells

said, he essentially was told there was no way he could get a team together in

time for the association’s World Cup.

Along about that time,

Sorrells learned that Haiti’s national soccer team was in Texas, and he went

there to see if he could enlist some help.

“I just showed up and asked

if there were any Christians on the team and learned their captain was a very

devout Christian,” he recalled.

Team Captain Pierre Bruny

immediately was interested. Upon his return to Haiti, Bruny began visiting

hospitals to invite amputees to try out for the team.

After several days of

tryouts, the Haitian national amputee soccer team was selected Aug. 14.

The next major hurdle involved

securing birth certificates, passports and visas in a country were so many

records had been destroyed, but eventually all were obtained.

Members of an amputee soccer team from Haiti practice in Frisco before journeying to international competition in Argentina.

Texas Baptist Men paid for

the air transport of the team from Haiti to Dallas. FC Dallas, the city’s

professional soccer team, put them up in hotel accommodations and provided

meals and transportation.

Local media reported on the

team, and donations began to come in, but still the team did not have the funds

necessary to fly to Crespo, Argentina, for the World Cup where they would play

teams from Argentina, Japan, France and Ukraine in their opening pool. In all,

14 teams are competing for the title.

Texas Baptist Men agreed to

step in again when the team did not have the money for the flight.

“People are starting to

donate, but not fast enough to get them to Argentina, so we are guaranteeing

the tickets, and then we will reimburse as the money becomes available,” Talley


But he was quick to not take

all the credit for the team’s getting the opportunity to play. While TBM had

handled this hurdle, others had helped at other points along the way.

“There are several groups

that are helping, we’re just a spoke in the wheel,” Talley said.

Sorrells said he expects TBM

to be fully reimbursed.

“We’re doing it as a step of

faith that people will hear about this team and make a donation. We really

believe we’ll be able to pay every penny of what they’ve given us back,” he


In amputee soccer, players

can only use a non-amputated limb to strike the ball. Field players must be

missing some portion of a leg, and goalies must be missing some portion of an


“Because some may only be

missing a hand or foot while others may have lost much more of the limb, only

the whole arm or leg can be used to touch the ball,” Sorrells explained.

Field players use crutches

that wrap around their forearms for their mobility. For more information and

video of the game, see here.

There also are opportunities to contribute on the site.

“We know we are the David

among the Goliaths, because we have not played an official game yet,” he said.

Sorrells’ organization, International

Institute of Sport, focuses on helping the handicapped be as involved in

athletic competition as they wish. He particularly is involved in the

Paralympic Games and Veterans Wheelchair Games.

Sorrells believes the Great

Commission is not only in Matthew 28. It also is in Luke 14:21-23: “The servant

came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became

angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of

the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ ‘Sir,’

the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and

make them come in, so that my house will be full.’”

“That’s what I’m trying to

do — help the poor, crippled, blind and lame to know Jesus Christ,” Sorrells


Seven of the Haitian amputee

team now are Christians. Once their World Cup experience is completed, Talley

said they will be trained in water purification so that they can help in future

disaster-relief efforts.

“The first casualty of a

disaster is hope,” Talley said. “They’re going to be able to tell other

earthquake survivors that there is hope, that there is life after an

earthquake, and they are proof of it.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Henson is a staff writer for

the Texas Baptist Standard.)