Players from the Little Haiti FC gather on the field during a match. Photo from NBC News Miami.

NEW YORK —Twelve senior players from South Florida’s Little Haiti Football Club have received full scholarships to attend college, the latest in a bevy of successes that include winning a major championship.  

Many of the soccer scholarship recipients are recent immigrants and live on their own, according to team co-founder Pat Santangelo. Three of the seniors, Anthony Rivier, Bernadin Herard and Alexander Charles, have been accepted by multiple colleges. 

Supervisors of the team say the club, which is volunteer-run, provides a valuable passion and outlet for youth whose lives otherwise might have taken a different direction.

“Most children are considered high-risk,” Little Haiti FC co-founder Pat Santangelo told NBC News Miami. “By having this here, this is the best gang alternative that you can possibly come up with.” 

Team members and supporters especially welcome the news, given the major setbacks and tragedy suffered. Three players — Gedeon Desir, 13, Lens Desir, 15, and Richecarde Dumay, 17 — were killed by a drunk driver in 2019 while walking to catch a bus to a soccer championship.

“These kids are not supposed to succeed statistically, but 100 percent of them graduate from high school,” Santangelo said. “We’re preparing those kids for the future.”

Details about the colleges the players were admitted to are not known at this time. 

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