Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Haitian story


LEFT MIDFIELDER: Manoucheka Pierre-Louis

Mark Fraser

It’S an amazing story really—Haiti’s ambitious effort to qualify for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in Canada next June.

Do you know that 18 of the 19-member Haitian squad play for one team, FC Indiana, in the US. FC Indiana, a two-time Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) Champion (2005, 2007) and a W-League finalist in 2008, is an American women’s soccer team based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.

Founded in 2003, the team is currently a member of the WPSL Elite League, the second  level of women’s football in the US. They play their home games at St Joe Stadium. Chairman and manager of FC Indiana is Polish coach Shek Borkowski, who two years ago became Haiti’s national women’s coach, after successfully pitching the idea to the Haitian Federation of developing its women footballers by letting them play for his team in the US.

Haiti now has a Polish coach, Ecuadorian and Croatian assistant coaches and two other American coaches with specific roles as well. None of the Haitian national women footballers now play in their native land. All currently play in the US. 

Borkowski has blended a team containing the likes of San Francisco-born American striker Samantha Brand, who has Haitian roots, with home grown talent such as 34-year-old captain and central defender Kencia Marseille (#4); 25-year-old penetrative left-midfielder Manoucheka Pierre-Louis (#7), playmaker Wisline Dolcine (#10) and forward-running right-back Yvrose Gevril.

For the past two years, Borkowski has brought this squad to train in Indiana for six months at a time, playing as semi-pro WPSL team and also having regular friendly matches against American college and women’s teams, and even international friendlies against the likes of Australia.  

Borkowski’s goal is to have a competitive Haiti side that can challenge for one of the 3 1/2 spots Concacaf is allotted for the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada (with the host nation granted an automatic spot). And given the effort they have put in, who will begrudge the Haitians if they do become the first Caribbean team to qualify for a senior women’s World Cup.