James Marcelin is an International Footballer who represents Haiti. He is a Midfielder who has played for his country at U21 and Senior level, representing Haiti in some of the most important matches in their history, scoring goals in World Cup qualifiers, the Copa America and the Gold cup. One of those goals came in a match against Brazil, when James became the first Haitian player to score in a Copa América and the first Haitian goal scorer ever against Brazil. Domestically, James has played most of his career in the Professional American soccer leagues with one of the highlights coming In 2015 when he was selected in the North American soccer league’s all star team of the year.
James told us that he grew up with his Mother and siblings as his Father had left to live in the US when he was young and he only saw him occasionally. His father then tragically died when James was just 10 years old. James felt that because his father wasn’t around and with the hole that that left, that his faith and believing in God as a father was always something that gave him the strength and comfort even in difficult times. James said that living day to day his mother gave everything to make sure they had what they needed but having to pay for school in Haiti, sometimes sadly he would be sent home as they could not afford to pay that day. That meant his family knew that having an education to succeed in life was crucial and so his Mother was always worried that if he prioritised football and didn’t get an education and then got injured he’d have nothing and so she never really supported him with his football at all to begin with.
James told us he grew up playing street football, playing barefoot so that his Mother would not see the clues from his footwear, that he had been doing so. He dreamt of playing for the national team but without any support and finance, following his passion was not an easy task. He particularly remembers travelling to the local stadium, knowing most children were allowed in for free with an adult and so he would often convince one of the adults to allow him to come in with them but at other times he would sneak in as close as he could to someone and the security would assume they were together. Through that and other commitments his love for the game grew. James admitted that he wasn’t the most gifted player but said he was always one of the hardest workers and inspired by one of his heroes practiced and practiced and never stopped working even when he’d worked his way into the National team and fulfilled a dream.
James recalled with pride that when that happened the proudest person on the planet was his Mother. He said that in hearing his name on the radio and in the media she was so happy and in that, James was even more grateful for what he’d achieved. When it came to his faith James told us another decision he had made alone was to go to church as a child, as although his Mother often prayed she didn’t go a lot herself. James had it in his heart though in the same way he loved football and would always pray and thank God for everything throughout his life and knew he was the reason behind his successes. Even now James always says a prayer of thanks before any game he plays and no matter what is happening good or bad he remains grateful.
We asked James what he felt the message and lesson was from his story and he said that message to you all was “Don’t ever say you can’t be one of the best. God has given you gifts with the ambitions that you have inside you and the right motivation. You just have to put the work in to be successful and I believe if you ask God and trust him he’ll always help you.
James wants to continue working hard to get the opportunity to play at the highest levels and one day go on to coach with a dream of being involved in coaching the National team so for now he’ll just keep doing his best to be the best footballer and person he can be and were grateful that he chose to share with us .