Haiti’s participation in the 2010 Youth Olympic football Tournament in Singapore is a testament to football’s restorative qualities, as all in the team were directly impacted by the massive earthquake in January that ravaged the Caribbean nation and killed more than 200,000 people, including members of the country’s Football Family.

Singapore 2010 will not be Haiti’s first taste of international football. The country is passionate about the beautiful game and even managed to reach to the rarefied air of a FIFA World Cup™ in 1974, besting all comers in their CONCACAF zone to reach the finals in West Germany. The youngsters who will line up at the Youth Olympic Football Tournament will offer a bit of respite for their comrades back home who are still in the difficult process of rebuilding the nation after the devastation of the quake.

The Haitian team is drawn in Group C alongside Vanuatu and Bolivia. The nation’s Football Association was only informed of its inclusion in the global competition in June following the withdrawal of Cuba. As a result, Haiti’s preparations are likely to be less complete than some of their fellow participants. However, with spirit to spare, a proud tradition in their region and something bigger to play for, Haiti may well spring a surprise at these Asian finals.

Haitian football has developed a reputation for sumptuous skill coupled with tough physical play in their CONCACAF zone. Their full senior team was crowned champions of North, Central America and the Caribbean in 1973 and they reached the quarter-finals of the region’s flagship Gold Cup in 2009. The young boys in Singapore will be eager to add to this tradition, and carve out a little history of their own by bringing home the country’s first piece of silverware on the world stage.