By Ottawa Sportspage, For St. Anthony Futuro Soccer
About as fast as Ed Florent flashes down the field did the 16-year-old St. Anthony Futuro Soccer Academy player recently impress the coaching brass of the Haitian under-17 men’s national team.
In just his second trip back to his birth country – his family moved to Canada only a few months into his life – the Orleans striker earned the chance to return to the Haiti national team program, and, if all goes according to plan, play in the World Cup one day down the road.
“That feeling was indescribable,” Florent says of the moment he was invited to stay on with Team Haiti. “It’s a new step. I have the chance to do big things. There are a lot of challenges coming, so I need to keep my standards high and just keep playing my football.”
The Futuro player of four years felt well-prepared for the four-day camp in Port-au-Prince, held the week before Christmas. The drills weren’t any different than what he experienced with his home Academy, and he held his own despite the Haitian players’ impressive size, strength, aggressiveness and quick ball movement.
Though he’s got great ball skills, it was Florent’s speed and running ability that sold him to the Haitian coaching staff and suited the team’s style.
“I want to represent my country and let the world know that Haiti’s on the map – that we can win Cups and be a country that plays in big tournaments,” underlines Florent, whose female Haitian counterparts beat out Canada for the last U-20 Women’s World Cup spot in January.
Set to rejoin the team for full training around March Break, Florent originally connected with the Haitian football federation last year by sending them video clips from his Futuro games.
Florent’s football-mad father – a national-level talent himself before an injury derailed his career – played a big part in this latest step and throughout his son’s soccer journey.
Florent thanks his father for providing “soccer in my blood”, the parents and coaches from his club, his church for their prayers and support, and his teammates for always bringing the training intensity required to flourish.
“I love the atmosphere here,” signals Florent, who celebrated a title with “my brothers” this past spring in the Toronto-based SAAC soccer academy league, which came on the heels of back-to-back regional crowns. “Since I got to Futuro, I’ve got more clever, faster, stronger, smarter and improved my technical abilities.”
NATIONAL TEAM PLAYER SUCCESSES FUEL THE DREAM FOR YOUNG ST. ANTHONY’S PROSPECTS
Florent is not the first Futuro player to play with a Caribbean/Central American nation. Carmen Marin broke into the Costa Rican program as a 12-year-old and has since played in multiple CONCACAF events.
“Carmen sparked the fire,” recalls Futuro technical director Sanjeev Parmar. “Kids see that from this one small little academy, a girl, at 12 years old, can make an under-17 national team. That’s very big.”
There are countless other Futuro success stories. In the past year alone, Claire Rea played with the Canadian under-15 program, Ben Penticost represented Canada at the Danone Nations Cup, Noah Abat- neh joined the AS Roma academy, and another trio moved on to the Montreal Impact.
“Our kids are moving on to professional and international levels. That’s what’s ignited the fire in these kids to dream,” Parmar adds. “Once a player like Ed gets to the national level, it’s a massive accomplishment. We’re really proud of Ed’s dedication to constantly improve himself, and we’re excited to see where his dream takes him.”