Born in Cap-Haitien in the north of Haiti, TapIn co-founder Pedro Herivaux developed his love for football kicking around grapefruits or ‘anything else we could get our feet on’ in the streets of the former capital. The youngest of a family of nine, Pedro recalls playing neighborhood games more intense than any professional match on the dirt field of Centre Dada Dou.
Economic turbulence in Haiti saw the family moved to Brooklyn, New York when he was nine and Pedro continued to play football winning a New York High School State Championship with Martin Luther King High School and representing Zenith, as a 16 year old, the team of Haitian community in the local Caribbean league.
Looking for a change of scenery Herivaux traded Brooklyn for Newton Massachusetts where he attended Mt. Ida College for two years, playing striker for the Mustangs. His next move was even further from his youth in the Nord Department as Pedro moved to Japan with his girlfriend (now wife) Miki whom he met at college.
In the far-east he trained with Gamba Osaka and off the field, he was lucky enough to work with some major fashion brands as a model including Armani, Versace and Jean-Paul Gautier. After injury cut short his career in football, Pedro made a living owning a nightclub with Leonard Francois, father of Tennis star Naomi Osaka.
In 1999 Pedro moved back to Boston to raise his family and became involved with coaching soccer with his son’s Zachary’s teams. Along with New England Revolution Soccer player Shalrie Joseph he formed a club which served the inner-city immigrant communities in and around Boston. The club, ‘Shalrie Joseph FC’ was very successful and won the Massachusetts State Cup alongside a number of other regional and national tournaments.
It was through coaching that Pedro first met TapIn co-founder Steve Schechter. Schechter recruited Pedro’s son and future Haitian National team and New England Revolution star Zachary to the Beaver Country Day school in Newton, Mass and Pedro joined the ranks as assistant coach. The two formed a successful partnership winning the League Championship three years running and being consistently ranked #1 in New England.
In 2013 Steve and Pedro decided to run a clinic and bring some equipment to local club Pyrmamide Club Sportif in Delmas, Haiti which saw them working with around 30 kids. Steve and Pedro returned each year with attendance growing to around 150 players. During these events, the two would repeatedly come into contact with extremely talented players who had no team to play for or league to compete in.
At the same time, Pedro had also been spending more time in the country as he developed a cell phone brand. Krik?Krak! was created following the earthquake of 2010, when Pedro realized the need for a rugged and durable mobile phone that could still operate in extreme conditions. It was through this lens that the coaching partnership realized the solution to developing a National Football League for the country, may lie in the rapidly increasing prevalence of smartphones in Haitian life. In early 2019, TapIn Mobile Solutions was born with a mission to promote equal opportunities in team sports and for inspiring & empowering the youth of the world.
“We realized that through technology we could provide a platform to support football leagues for which the only requirement was a coach or administrator having access to a cell phone and we could then connect the whole country within a national network,” said Herivaux.
Endorsed and sanctioned by the Haitian Football Federation (FHF), and powered by the TapIn app, the Ligue Nationale De Football Des Jeunes D’Haiti (LNFJH) will be Haiti’s first nationally based league, operating in all ten of Haiti’s departments.
“We want to give boys and girls the chance to compete with their friends and represent their communities. Not only is this a lot of fun but it also keeps youngsters focused and out of trouble,” says Pedro. “For the elite level our aim is to provide those players with structures to be identified and give those players opportunities to compete for their country and make a career through the game.”
Pedro is familiar with bringing players to the professional level as he encountered it first-hand with Zach who was identified by US National team scouts at 15 and went on to achieve major success as a youth player before being signed out of High School to join the Revolution.
“I was very lucky that I moved to the USA and was able to gain access to a college education through my football ability,” said Herivaux. “The structure of youth soccer in the USA whilst not perfect, allowed my son to play in a professional environment from a young age creating a pathway for him to fulfill his dreams of playing in the MLS and for Haiti.”
Pedro points to the recent success of Haiti in the Gold Cup this summer (which Zach was part of) as an example of the potential the country has in the game. “The National team did a tremendous job at the Gold Cup and we know that Haiti has so much more it can achieve. The talent is there, we just need to harness and cultivate it, in the right way,”.
For TapIn and the LFNJH things are just beginning. The app was launched in late September and though Haiti is currently witnessing some political upheaval, registrations have been flowing in a steady rate. “It is never easy doing something that has never been done before and when you combine that with developing an app and building an infrastructure, every day brings new challenges” says Pedro. “That being said, we’re incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made so far and the feedback from the football community has been overwhelmingly positive and players, and coaches can’t wait to get the league started.”
The short-term focus for the company revolves around collecting registrations and building out increased features to enhance the experience of the league. Long-term though, Herivaux has a goal in mind. “In ten years I would love to see a Haitian Messi or Marta (hopefully both) identified by the LNFJH and the TapIn App competing at the highest level of the game such as the Champions League or in one of the top teams in one of the top leagues. With the talent we have and the passion for the game, I think it’s very possible.”