Though she has still never visited her ancestral country, soccer is giving Georgia State University freshman Taina Anglade a chance to reconnect with her Haitian roots.
The 18-year-old in January joined the Haitian women’s national soccer team for a weekend training camp in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., as the team prepares for qualifying matches later this year for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France or Korea. As of now, Anglade is on the team and is invited to play in the American tour starting April 8.
“Being surrounded by all the girls and their parents and meeting the different sponsors for Haiti has opened my eyes to the love, pride and joy of the Haitian culture,” Ms. Anglade said.
Born to Haitian parents in New Jersey on Oct. 15, 1996, Ms. Anglade was just 3 when her father began passing down his love for Haiti’s favorite sport, which he played on the streets as a child.
“The first time I played soccer, I’m pretty sure I cried,” said Ms. Anglade. “I hated it probably until I was about 7 or 8. I used to want to quit every day, but my dad kept pushing it.”
The family moved a few times before eventually ending up in Milton, Ga., where Ms. Anglade attended Cambridge High School. She continued to play soccer for a club team and met GSU women’s soccer coach Derek Leader, who won her commitment to Georgia State.
“He was just really persistent and really convincing, so I knew it would be a good decision,” Ms. Anglade said.
After her first semester at GSU, the coach of the Haitian women’s national team, Shek Borkowski, contacted Mr. Leader, whom he had known for 20 years, and asked if Ms. Anglade could play with the team.
This honor has given her a new perspective on her culture, even though she has still yet to visit Haiti.
“Now that this opportunity has hit me, I realize that going out there and playing for other people, not just myself—playing for the country and playing for my parents—is a feeling that’s incomparable,” she told Global Atlanta.
Ms. Anglade plans to continue her education at GSU with a possible major in managerial sciences while pursuing international soccer.
Read a New York Times story about the struggles of the Haitian women’s national team..