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17307: (Hermantin)Miami-Herald-Haiti-Honduras caps weekend of culture in sports (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Posted on Mon, Nov. 17, 2003

Haiti-Honduras caps weekend of culture in sports

Linda Robertson

The flag and the dress, stitched with devotion and displayed with unabashed
pride, stood out among the emblems of patriotism Sunday night at the Orange

The flag was so big -- as big as a yard -- that Fernando Midence enlisted
the aid of six friends to sit on its corners and edges so it could be
properly anchored to several ascending rows of seats in the upper deck. It's
the white-and-blue-striped flag of Honduras. Midence unfurls the banner he
made for $300 at every Honduran soccer game he attends, and he doesn't miss

The dress was so elegant -- cut from red-and-blue Haitian flags -- that
Danie D'Meza could wear it to a cocktail party. She wears it to every
Haitian soccer game she attends, and she doesn't miss many.

Honduras defeated Haiti 1-0 on Sunday in an Olympic qualifier pitting the
nations' under-23 squads. More than 18,000 spectators came out to support
their team and their homeland. On the way in, they could buy a team jersey
or chow down on griot or baliadas. Once inside, no sitting was allowed as
Haiti fought futilely for a tying goal against the Catrachos. The show in
the stands was as entertaining as that on the field as the fans sang and
swayed to the beat of drums, tambourines, trumpets and trombones.


The soccer game ended a remarkable sporting weekend that captured the
essence of eclectic South Florida. In Homestead, you had the deafening
spectacle of stock car racing. There were lots of fans in Earnhardt black
drinking beer and wearing radio scanners on their heads so they could
eavesdrop on the drivers' conversations with pit crews.

In West Palm Beach, you had an international croquet tournament featuring
the best player in the world, who is an accountant from London. Lots of tea
was consumed, quietly. The players wore white -- and presumably would not be
caught dead with cigarette company logos plastered all over their clothes.
Or would they? Maybe they'd like to borrow some NASCAR marketing tricks.

Miami Beach was host to national body-building and petanque events. You
could have taken your pick: brawn or finesse. There was thoroughbred racing,
harness racing, greyhound racing. The Miami Hurricanes and Miami Dolphins
were thankful for middling victories.

And in the Orange Bowl on Sunday night, with the UM markers still painted on
the turf, fútbol as the rest of the world knows it. Why buy plane tickets?
You don't have to leave South Florida to travel the globe. It's all right
here if you're willing to look.


Haiti was due to play Honduras in Port au Prince. But the stadium is
structurally unsafe and there's not enough money to repair it. So Haiti
chose the next best thing to a home-field advantage: Miami.

Haiti's national team has not qualified for the World Cup since 1974 and has
never made it to the Olympics. But soccer has always been the national
pastime. On the other side of Hispaniola, Dominicans love baseball.

Why soccer? Haitians say it's the perfect sport for expressing their
artistry and their freedom. ''We have a real cultural connection with Brazil
in that we, too, love soccer, music and Carnival,'' said Jacques Theard, a
local radio and TV commentator.

Soccer is the great unifier in the troubled country and for those who are
homesick for it. ''When it comes to soccer, everyone mingles, regardless of
your status or pigmentation,'' said Kerby Baton. ``When it comes to
politics, it's something different.''

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