It's more than just offering a helping hand; it's really learning a life lesson.

So sums up the terrific, ongoing effort of a group of young female Dublin United Soccer League players to raise funds to help their coach, Samantha "Coach Sam" Brand and the Haitian national women's soccer team as they try to qualify for the 2015 FIFA World Cup.

Brand, whose parents were Haitian, came to Dublin a few years back when the Bay Breeze professional women's soccer team was being formed. She continues to play for the Bay Breeze along with the Haitian national team, which is in the middle of qualifying for the women's World Cup. At the same time, Coach Sam is in her second season of coaching the U11 and U15 girl's premier teams in Dublin -- a task she admits can be quite challenging while staying completely connected to her Haitian teammates.

"We did our first round of qualifications (in June) and in August will play against Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, Jamaica and Puerto Rico," says Brand.

If they finish first or second in that qualifier, they advance to play the final qualifier against formidable teams from America, Canada and Mexico. Because that qualifier is being played in Canada, there are some rule exceptions so that Haiti may qualify even if they don't finish in the top two. First, of course, they have to get through August.

The problem is that the government of Haiti is still reeling from a devastating earthquake in 2010 that left 220,000 people dead and many more homeless.


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"Haiti provides as much as they can. If they have the money they'll give it. But if they don't, they can't," says Brand, who, like the rest of her teammates, has to help out with fundraising in order to be able to train and participate in the World Cup qualifying matches.

Enter the girls of the Dublin Magic, who have planned a number of fundraising activities over the course of the year to help support Coach Sam and her teammates.

"The girls knew this was a dream of hers, a lifetime opportunity," says Priyanka Jain, the team manager for the Magic, who has devoted a lot of time in helping the fundraising efforts. "When the girls and when I sat down with the girls we decided it would be great to help her compete and at least have a chance to play."

So far, the girls have raised more than $1,000 and are really just getting started. They've signed up some individual sponsors who will pay a set amount for each goal the Magic scores and are beginning to go after the business community to lend a hand. For example, on Aug. 12, On the Border in Dublin will donate some proceeds to support Brand and the Haitian team. Team parents say this has become more than just a fundraiser. It has become a great life lesson.

"At first, it was a just helping at a local level for an international cause, which is great. Now, this is (helping the girls) reach their potential and to challenge themselves," says Jain.

"I am absolutely floored by it," says Coach Sam. "They are really just trying to do something nice for a team even though they don't know any of the players except for me. I'm really over-appreciative to them all."

The Haitian team is actually doing their training in Indiana, which means Brand has to travel away from her Dublin teams before each qualifying event. She'll leave for 10 days in August for training and then for the matches themselves.

And then there's her Bay Breeze commitment, too. The team, which is working to earn a second-place finish in the league for the playoffs, plays their last home match Sunday at a Tri-Valley location still to be decided at press time.

If you would like to help Brand and the Haitian women's team, contact magicgoals4giving@gmail.com. You can also learn more by logging onto www.dublinsoccer.org/programs/team-haiti-fundraiser.

Contact Alan Elias at elias2000@sbcglobal.net.