Friday 03 August 2018, 12:01

Haiti: A world of possibilities

  • France 2018 is Haiti’s first qualification to a Women’s World Cup in any category

  • Haitian football federation president explains the significance of the achievement

  • Jean-Bart: “This qualification would not have been possible without the FIFA Forward Programme”​

After finishing third at the 2018 CONCACAF Women's U-20 Championship, Haiti secured their place at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup France 2018, where they will shortly be rubbing shoulders with such giants of the women’s game as USA, Japan, Germany and Nigeria.

The island nation will not only be making their maiden appearance at a Women’s World Cup in any category, but they have also made history, as the first Caribbean team to qualify for such a tournament – a feat with implications way beyond those of just football.

“This qualification means a lot to Haiti,” Haitian Football Federation (FHF) president Yves Jean-Bart told "We’ve gained credibility and respect. In a nation that is socially resistant to change, this victory for women's football is an important step forward. These girls have made the country proud, which helps the emancipation of women here and their personal fulfilment.”

Of course, there was nothing fortuitous about Haiti’s qualification for France 2018. Marc Collat’s team are brimming with talent, as reflected in their midfield strategist Nerilia Mondesir. Collectively, they produced some very fine performances at the qualifying tournament in January, especially in prevailing 1-0 against Canada – a powerhouse of the women’s game – in the match for third-place. It should be said, however, that their qualifying feat was the culmination of a lengthy process and a lot of hard work, as well as the assistance provided by the FIFA Forward programme.

“This qualification would not have been possible without the Forward Programme. The requisite resources were put at our disposal, not just to prepare for the qualifying tournament for France 2018, but also for upcoming ones,” said Jean-Bart. “FIFA Forward has allowed us to answer our own ambition.”

To be exact, the current Forward programme complemented FIFA’s initial project work, which originally allowed the creation of modern and functional infrastructures that propelled Haitian football forward. The Forward programme has continued this by promoting the recruitment of dependable and quality staff, in particular. “We were able to get work equipment, hire qualified managers and provide elite training to our talented young girls and boys,” added the FHF chief.

It was not long before the results bore fruit. “We’ve made rapid progress in all aspects of our sport,” continued Jean-Bart. "Our championships are now organised and structured, our national teams are well prepared, and the results have been felt. We’ve become a power in the Caribbean and, in some respects, it seems we’ve closed the gap that existed between us and the North American teams.”

The results at U-20 level back up Jean-Bart’s assertion, but progress has not been confined to that category. “For the past three or four years, especially on the women’s side, we’ve been shaking up the established order in the region and the dominance of the USA-Canada-Mexico triumvirate. For example, at U-17 level, we came close to a qualifying for [the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup] Uruguay 2018,” he remarked.

And from 5 August, Haiti will try to go one step further – and shake up the world hierarchy in France. “We know it’ll be difficult, as we’ve been drawn in a very strong group. However, we’re going to show that we deserve to be there!” the president concluded.