The Sport for Hope Centre in Haiti is demonstrating how sport can change the lives of young people in the most humbling and inspiring ways.
Officially opened by IOC President Thomas Bach last July, the Centre in Port-au-Prince held a sports camp last summer which provided approximately 500 young Haitians with an array of sporting, cultural, educational and social development activities, in addition to a healthy breakfast and lunch.
One of those youngsters was Patrick Pierre Chéry. Patrick’s story is one about the power of sport to inspire people to become champions outside the sporting arena, in their daily lives and local communities.
It was during these weekly sports camps that Patrick got his first taste of table tennis. Demonstrating a natural aptitude for the game and great hand-eye coordination, he excelled in the table tennis training sessions.
Eager to continue playing after the summer sports camp, but with no equipment of his own and no money with which to purchase any, Patrick got creative, going to admirable lengths to continue practising his new-found passion at home.
Patrick made a table out of a small plank of wood. He strung his own net across the table using a couple of nails. For paddles, Patrick improvised using the lids from old paint cans. Recycled roller balls from used deodorant bottles proved to be the perfect substitution for the real thing. Patrick has encouraged his friends to play, teaching them the basic rules he learnt during his sessions at the Sport for Hope Centre.
And thus the “Patrick Pierre Chéry Table Tennis Club” was born in Port-au-Prince.
Patrick’s extraordinary resourcefulness caught the attention of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). Glenn Tepper, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the ITTF, decided to make a pit stop at the Patrick Pierre Chéry Table Tennis Club to see first-hand the skills and enthusiasm of this young man. The ITTF Deputy CEO rewarded Patrick with proper rackets, balls and clothing after a game of ‘mini’ table tennis.
Patrick is clearly an Olympic champion in spirit and determination! We wish him and his friends all the best going forward.