Vancouver Whitecaps FC defender Bilal Duckett will be among a group of professional soccer players that will take part in a mission trip to Haiti in December to visit orphanages and conduct soccer clinics to help the children and young adults of the country.
Haiti, which is located in the Caribbean, has been in need of support ever since a major earthquake ravaged the country in January of 2010. The natural disaster left over 300,000 people dead and 1.6 million people homeless.
Vision International Ministries (VIM) is sponsoring the mission, as Duckett travels along with a number of fellow professional players, including former University of Notre Dame teammate Philip Tuttle who currently plays for Harrisburg City Islanders of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Professional Division. Tuttle's mother, Annette, is in full-time ministry at Shiloh Community Church in Manchester, N.H., and she oversees the mission program there in addition to working with VIM. This will be Annette's fourth trip to Haiti since the earthquake. She has also traveled to the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Russia and the Dominican Republic.
“When I first asked Bilal about going he didn't hesitate at all," said Tuttle. "I asked him if he had any plans for the offseason and when I began to explain what my plan was he jumped right on board. Since then the trip has grown. We've had a number of responses from other professional players who share the same passion as us that we've actually had to turn them down due to a lack of accommodations in Haiti. I see this as the first of many trips to different countries all over the world and in the future would like to bring as many Notre Dame players as possible."
Duckett has started two of his four appearances for Whitecaps FC this season after being selected by the club with the the first pick in the third round (37th overall) of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.
"I got on board with the trip quickly because I feel that I've been given a great opportunity as a professional soccer player to give back to the community," stated Duckett. "We all heard about the tragic earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Although it's no longer breaking news, there's still a lot to be done for the people in Haiti. We hope that we can bring some joy and supplies to Haitians."
The group is looking for donations of soccer balls, cleats, shorts, shirts, etc. that they will take down and distribute to the people of Haiti. All donations are tax deductible and can be sent to:
Attn: Annette Tuttle
55 Edmond Street
Manchester, NH 03102
For more information and online donations, visit their Facebook page.
Click here to learn more about Vision International Ministries.