International

A Hug For A Haitian Soccer Player Shows An American Girl's Heart

This is a story that will make your day better. It also might make you cry.

It's about a young woman who did a very simple thing when she saw another girl suffering. She gave her a hug.

As the St. Petersburg Times says, it's now a "hug felt around the world" because of the attention it's getting.

Here's what happened:

Last week at a girls under-17 soccer tournament in Costa Rica, the U.S. team defeated Haiti 9-0.

Going into the match, the Americans knew that many of the girls on the Haitian team had lost parents, siblings and friends in the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake that struck their nation; and respected their opponents' determination to play on.

When the game ended, the teams met to shake hands. After that, they headed for the sidelines. That's when American goalie, 16-year-old Bryane Heaberlin of Tampa, saw Haitian goalie Alexandra Coby, who was on the ground. Alexandra was crying.

Bryane went to her opponent — and embraced her. Then the rest of the American team followed. The group hug lasted more than a minute.

"I knew everything that she had gone through before the game and I knew how tough it had to have been for her," Bryane told All Things Considered host Melissa Block today. "So, I just thought that a hug, would, after the game ... help her a lot":

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The Americans also realized, Bryane says, that compared to the Haitian girls they are incredibly blessed. After all, the Americans had parents and other relatives in the stands. Many of the Haitians didn't, for tragic reasons:

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The sportsmanship and compassion that Bryane and her teammates showed reminds me of the women softball players who carried an injured opponent to home plate in 2008.

And reminds me that many, many young people quietly do the right thing every day.

Much more from Melissa's conversation with Bryane will be on ATC later today. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. Later, the as-broadcast conversation will be posted here.

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