John: Hope Makes Me Live
Member since
Country of Origin
Lesvos, Greece
John Laugh Hero

A friendly, smiling face, that’s John, a refugee oceans away from his Haitian home, who has found camaraderie and purpose through Lesvos Spirit as the peaceful and calm coach of the boys’ football team.

John is in love with football, that’s not hard to see, whether he’s on the pitch or beside it. He’s played since he was 16, and he uses it to manage stress, finding it particularly helpful when dealing with his feelings having fled Haiti, a country often named as being close to collapse. Playing football counteracts the uncertainty related to John's refugee status, also the daily stresses of living in a camp full of constant arrivals on the Greek island he now calls temporary home.
  • John dribble
    "For me, sport, it's a family." John on his footballing life.
  • John knee up
  • John kick
  • John Keepy Uppy
3 months after landing on Lesvos, John joined the club of Cosmos FC. And clearly more than his football skill shone through, as one day he was asked if he had ever been a coach before. John had indeed done a coaching course in his homeland of Haiti, so was keen to make the transition to youth coaching at the Lesvos Spirit clubhouse.
His approach to football he describes as just like normal school, where you need to learn how to do certain things. On the field, it's skills such as teamwork and conflict resolution that are taught.
John nets
John Goalposts
Photos by Coco Olakunle
John also views football psychologically - believing his young players, often unaccompanied minors, need to learn to “digest the blood that wants to rise, to calm down, calm down. It's football, fighting is not good.”
Having escaped Haiti’s vicious gang violence and its recent natural disasters himself, this mental approach makes sense, and you can see why John’s peaceful demeanour earns him friends all over the island.
John kneel
eL Seed whole shirt front
As a keen cook and also football referee, John’s sporting friends have now become his family. He proudly admits that himself, and is adamant that they give him hope. He dreams of becoming a professional football coach when he departs Lesvos.
But for now he inspires the youngsters of the Yoga & Sports with Refugees gym, KLABU’s clubhouse partner on the island, with his philosophy that life is a contrast of both negative and positive moments; "when there is suffering, there is victory." John's words powerfully echo those that run through the pattern of the KLABU x eL Seed shirt he wears; "always, always, you pass through fire to reach the shining."
It’s a lot of responsibility to lead and be a coach, and while John gets the blame for the losses, he also takes great pride in the winning. All driven on by the irrepressible hope of future joy, and the people he plays football with who clearly help fuel it.
John coaching
"We were more than 17 people who arrived here. Everyone has already found the papers, they have already found a job, in France, in Germany. But me, I'm still here. I think that finding the papers, that's what worries me a lot. But, you know, me, I have faith."


Lesvos Spirit Youth Football Coach


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