My experience at the Haiti Youth National Team Camp
On the heels of his older brother Ed joining Haiti’s U17 national, St. Anthony Futuro 2005-born player Benedict Florent also began his journey to play for his family’s native land.
The U13-age player spent a week training at the Haitian national team’s home and has now received official confirmation that he will be part of Haiti’s U15 national group moving forward. Benedict reported on his experience at the camp:
On Thursday morning, I woke up at 5:00 am to go to practice with the U17 Haitian national team. I didn’t train with my age group because there isn’t a team for my age group yet, but this year they’re making a U15 and a U14/13 team as the FIFA requirement for the CONCACAF. My tryouts were made with the older boys (U17) just to see my level as well as how I will be doing with the older boys.
As always, I get nervous because I don’t know how good they will be, how my performance will be, etc. Arriving at the field at 7:00 am, we got to meet the coach called Gabriel Michel. We got a quick look at the field and we joined the guys.
The team was doing a different style of warm up as it was run by an old professional national team player named Jerome. Our warm up was based on changing of pace and quick reacting.
After the warm up, we played a small-sided game. Coach Gabriel divided the teams in two groups: the players going to France for a tournament in the team A vs the ones that are not in the team B.
The game was more based to play in small spaces. Every time I got the ball, I always had no time on the ball as they’re bigger and faster than I am. I always played 1 or 2 touch to avoid physical contact. I twice took 3 touches by a Maradona then a pass. One of them led to a goal.
The other team lost the ball in their final third, I did a Maradona and played it to this open player who fed my brother Ed nicely for a great goal. After 15/20mins of doing that, we moved on to a full-sided game with the same teams.
On Friday, me, my brother, my dad, and my dad’s brother woke up earlier, since the day before we arrived a bit late. We woke up at 4:30 am not to catch the “big traffic” in Haiti.
Arriving at the field early, me and my brother decided to play keep up with the ball to get ready. After those 10/15mins, the team showed up. The warm up that day was based on agility course, so we divided the team in two groups.
After the good warm up, we played a game. Coach Gabriel said that I was going to get on the field at the second half. First half was 0-0 and when me, my brother and Kameron (player from Metropolitan Oval, in NYC) came on, the game changed and it ended 2-2.
When it started, I was already feeling the physicality in the air as Cicinho (Marc Daniel), a midfielder gave me a push to the back when I hit the ball. After that wake up call, I decided to play more physical not to lose the ball as I did Thursday, but it didn’t turn out the same. Players were physically stronger than I am, so I just played with my technical ability on the ball.
My team played well, and me and my brother Ed had good connections. I started the second half but didn’t play the first one. The game ended as a 2-2 tie with a goal from my brother Ed.
We had a practice in the afternoon so I was really looking forward to my first “two practices in a day” thing. Arriving to the field at 5:30 pm, me and Ed played keep up to get some touches on the ball. Later that afternoon, 30 mins to be exact, the players came.
The afternoon practice started with a 15 min jog around the field. During that, that’s where I got to know the players better. We laughed, talked, fought, and celebrated during those moments. After that, we played their version of soccer tennis for the whole session.
They didn’t really do drills and played 11v11 game instead to see what possible mistakes could happen during games at their tournament.
They told me and my dad that I’ll be definitely part of the U14/13 and U15 team. The U15s have a tournament soon in USA and I will be part of that roster.
Saturday was the day I went to Leogane, a small department in Port-au-Prince. I went to practice with the u13 Leogane club. We played a game but unfortunately, I didn’t get the ball too much to show what I could do – nobody passed me the ball. After that game, I watched my brother’s game, which ended 1-0 for his team.
Futuro player set for CONCACAF U17s
The Florents aren’t alone in the Futuro Academy as members of international teams. Carmen Marin is set to represent Costa Rica – where her father grew up – at the CONCACAF U17 Women’s Championship in Nicaragua. Her team will face USA on Apr. 20, Canada on Apr. 22 and Bermuda on Apr. 24.
“We’re excited to see how Carmen will do,” notes St. Anthony Futuro Technical Director Sanjeev Parmar. “She’s finally getting the chance to play at her own age group after being in the program for the past 4 years from age 12 to 16.”