The New York Red Bulls have partnered with Grammy Award-winning musician Wyclef Jean's non-political movement, Yéle Haiti, and will send three players to the island nation of Haiti from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6 for a service visit.
Two of the players making the trip are of Haitian descent, 17-year-old forward Josmir 'Jozy' Altidore and forward Jerrod Laventure, with midfielder Seth Stammler filling out the delegation. Neither Altidore nor Laventure have ever visited his homeland, so both are understandably excited about the opportunity.
"I am very excited to go to Haiti," said Altidore, whose mother grew up in Port-au-Prince, his father in Les Cayes. "I know it will be a very interesting experience for me because my parents were in a situation similar to the one that many of the people living in Haiti now face. It is great to know that I can help make a difference."
"For me personally, this trip hits very close to home and I am truly privileged to be a part of it," added Laventure, whose father grew up in Port-au-Prince. "With all the recent events that have been going on in Haiti, it is a great opportunity for me to help those who truly need it and positively impact the lives of the people we meet."
The three Red Bulls will start their trip with a visit to Jacmel, where Jean will be performing a free concert for an estimated 50,000 people as part of the third annual Jacmel Film Festival. The country's only international film festival, 80 films from across the globe will be dubbed into Creole and made available to the public at no charge. Jean's concert will be the artist's first in Haiti since performing there as a member of the Fugees in 1997.
Following two days in Jacmel, the Red Bulls will then move to the capital city of Port-au-Prince, where they will conduct instructional clinics and seminars for children involved with L'Athletique d'Haiti, a non-governmental organization that Yéle Haiti works closely with. Some 650 youths take part in L'Athletique d'Haiti's after-school soccer programs, and in addition to receiving first-hand instruction from the professionals, they will also be the beneficiaries of soccer clothing and equipment that has been collected by Red Bulls equipment manager Craig Chmiel throughout the 2006 season.
The Red Bulls' association with Jean is not a new development, as he performed with Colombian recording legend Shakira at New York's 2006 home opener on April 8.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.