FRIDAY saw the opening of Celtic Park Haiti in the country’s capital, Port au Prince. It was attended by around 1,500 local people and it is now certain that Celtic has some new supporters after the event. The area now has a space free of debris and rubble where local children and young people can be safe and can play football.
Up until building work started, hundreds of families were living on the space occupied by the park in tents, ever since the 2010 disaster. To see it now compared to the photographs of what it was is truly amazing.
Celtic Chief Executive, Peter Lawwell, said: “We all witnessed the devastation caused in Haiti by the earthquake of 2010 and the impact it had on the lives of so many people.
“There have been huge efforts in the past five years to re-build Haiti and we are delighted to have been a part of this.
“Celtic was established as a football club to help people in need and this ethos remains a fundamental part of our club almost 130 years after our formation.
“We are so pleased to be involved in this particular project and it is fitting that the Solino soccer field, once the scene of such heartache, will now act as a major positive focal point within the community.”
The football field, complete with changing facilities, was officially opened in one of the Caribbean’s poorest areas, in the Solino suburb of the Haitian capital, as all of the partners – Spiritans, CRS and Celtic FC Foundation, made short addresses to the crowd and exchanged gifts.
Celtic FC Foundation CEO, Tony Hamilton, who attended the opening, added: “It was truly humbling to be in Port au Prince for the opening of Celtic Park Haiti in the Solino district. These people live in enormous poverty, compounded by the earthquake five-and-ahalf years ago. Words can’t truly describe this level of deprivation.
“They are very enthusiastic about the project and have said that it is the starting point and a solid foundation for them to get their dignity back. They are totally engaged with the building of the football ground and enormously grateful to Celtic and Celtic FC Foundation for having a part in this area’s massive rebuilding process.
“Solino was a no-go area for many people but we were made extremely welcome and I am delighted that we could leave 20 full sets of the famous green and white Hoops to the people running the football park for use by local people.”