Haiti’s soccer players dream of international success

#Haitis #soccer #players #dream #international #success

They may be considered international minnows, but Haitian footballers are hoping to finally make their mark on the world stage, bolstered by their experience playing professionally in Europe.

The move across the Atlantic has been a challenge for the national team members, said Nerilia Mondesir, who has been playing in France since 2017.

“It’s not easy for Haitian women to play football. Opportunities are rare. We have to make sacrifices like leaving our country and family,” said the 23-year-old forward, who plays for Montpellier HSC.

Haiti, America’s poorest country, was devastated by earthquakes in 2010 and 2021.

It has also been rocked by political unrest – including the assassination of President Jovenel Moise a year ago – and a crippling economic crisis.

The hardships have prompted waves of Haitians to leave the country, many in search of the American Dream in the United States.

Haiti’s football scene has also been rocked by scandals.

In 2020, the president of the country’s football federation, Yves Jean-Bart, was banned for life by world governing body FIFA for allegedly sexually harassing and abusing various players, including minors.

– ‘Big Leagues’ –

Fourteen members of the Haitian women’s national soccer team play in Europe and a handful for universities in the United States, their coach Nicolas Delepine said after their CONCACAF W tournament debut in Mexico.

“The first thing we do is send our players to the big leagues,” said the Frenchman.

The national team hopes to break new ground as they qualify in Mexico for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Olympics.

They meet Mexico on Thursday after losing 3-0 to two-time world champions the United States in their first game of the eight-team tournament in Monterrey.

Despite the blows, US captain Megan Rapinoe credited the Haitians with “a lot of individual talent”.

While Rapinoe addressed the press after the game to salute a landmark equal pay agreement in their country, the Haitians quietly exited the stadium.

Only Mondesir, somewhat surprised, accepted a few questions from the press timidly.

Playing in Europe has not been easy for Haitians without experience, she said.

“In professional teams you have to work more than players from other countries,” she said.

The defeat to the United States in Monterrey will help Haitians grow stronger, Mondesir said, adding, “We’ve learned a lot.”

The top two teams in each group advance to the semifinals and next year’s Women’s World Cup, while those placed third in next February’s global playoffs advance to the bottom three places at the Women’s World Cup.

The CONCACAF winners will advance to the Paris Olympics, while the second- and third-placed teams meet in a playoff next year to determine another spot for France 2024.

The Haitians coach is confident that one day the Minnows will fulfill their dream of participating in a World Cup.

“Haiti is a small country but it’s a big country when it comes to football,” said Delepine.

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#Haitis #soccer #players #dream #international #success

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