By Kurt Voigt and Anne M. Peterson
Upon getting word that the Trinidad and Tobago women’s soccer team might not even have enough money for lunch, Haiti’s team took a look at its fundraising for World Cup qualifying — an account totaling a little over US$1,300 — and decided to turn it over to the competition.
That left Haiti with an uncertain future of its own. Until the Clintons got involved.
Both squads are training for next week’s CONCACAF championship, which serves as qualifying for the Women’s World Cup next year in Canada. Haiti opens the eight-team tournament on Wednesday against Guatemala in Kansas, while Trinidad and Tobago faces the top-ranked U.S. team.
On Wednesday, Trinidad and Tobago’s coach, Randy Waldrum, issued an urgent plea on Twitter.
“I need HELP! T&T sent a team here last night with US$500 total. No equipment such as balls, no transportation from airport to hotel, nothing,” the post read.
Waldrum said Thursday that his players got breakfast at their hotel in Dallas, where they are training, but he didn’t know where lunch was going to come from. So he got dramatic.
“I thought, ‘I’ve got an hour to find meals, to get us through the day, let alone the next five or six days,’” he said. “The only way I knew to do it was to send the tweet out, and I knew I couldn’t say, ‘Hey, T&T is in need of money, will you help donate?’”
His posts went viral quickly. The website KeeperNotes.com reached out to Waldrum and by Wednesday night had collected just over US$9,300 for the team via a PayPal account. Jen Cooper, who runs KeeperNotes, said because of the overwhelming response the site had to stop taking donations because of tax implications.
Haiti’s team also heard Waldrum’s plea from its training camp in South Bend, Indiana. The team had been running on donations and money raised from T-shirt sales and other fundraising. It had US$1,316 in its account.
The Haiti team, which has had its own financial struggles, decided to give it all to Trinidad and Tobago.
“My players saw on social media the difficulties faced by T&T players and approached me about what can we do to help. I was stunned,” Haiti coach Shek Borkowski said in announcing the donation on the team’s Facebook page. “They were very animated about helping so I will do as they asked.”