Haiti’s U17 Les Grenadiers ready to rep for the region at FIFA World Cup
Published on 13 October 2019
Haiti’s U17 Les Grenadiers are preparing for the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil from 26 October to November 17, 2019. This will be the country’s second U17 World Cup final, the first time being in 2007, and the fourth crack at a World Cup. The senior men’s team contested the 1974 World Cup and the U12 women historically qualified for the 2018 finals.
President of the Fédération Haïtienne de Football Dr. Yves Jean Bart spoke to us about preparations, the mood in the camp and about representing, not just Haiti, but the Caribbean.
How are overall preparations and training going for the FIFA U17 World Cup?
The team trains regularly at the FIFA Goal Center where these young people have been training since 2014. The training sessions are based on a program set up since their return from Bradenton and their qualification. Five of the players have completed an internship at Racing Club de Strasbourg, Club de D1 Française, and two of them are on the verge of signing professional trainee contracts.
We have also changed the quality of their lives at the center in a new building and have created a new menu for a diet more appropriate to good preparation for the World Cup.
The team played many preparation matches against local teams, twice a week, in order to be more competitive at the World Cup.
What is the mood amongst the players and, with one month to go, what is the focus?
The players are still on a cloud and are serious about training to go even further. Haiti has already participated in three finals of the FIFA World Cup—first in Germany in 1974 with the senior national team, then at the FIFA U17 World Cup in 2007 in South Korea and finally last year at the U20 Women’s Cup in France. Our national team has always had an honorable participation but never won a victory and have never passed the group stage. Our declared double objective is to cross the course of the first round, qualifying us to the direct elimination round. For this, our young people are working very hard.
Is excitement picking up in the community?
This qualification has raised enormous enthusiasm in the country, especially since the
playoff games were broadcast live on television. A wind of excitement blew over the country and the fans danced and celebrated several days in Haiti. These young people were invited by a lot of the communities that have given them an ecstatic welcome every time.
Do the players see themselves as standard-bearers for the Caribbean at the World Cup?
Our young people are aware of their mission and the heavy responsibility towards their country and football fans; but they are also aware that they are ambassadors of all the Caribbean and that they will be judged according to the region they represent. They know that good results and good performance will have spin-offsthat are positive for football and the young people of the Caribbean.
We do not cease to remind them of this heavy responsibility as flag-bearers of the entire Caribbean region, which is rich in talent and destined to become a global stronghold of talent where large clubs will soon seek the reinforcements they need to strengthen their level of performance.