News Update


Haiti’s team is ‘bringing the light back’ after qualifying for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Actually, may I ask you a question?

Kerly Theus, a goalie for the Haitian women’s national team, is 5 feet 4 inches tall.

We have been discussing her work, her home nation, and her youth for the last 40 minutes. Even the friends she lost in the 2010 earthquake have been discussed.

However, something that she has been anxious to express has been rising up inside of her all this time.

At the Women’s World Cup in Brisbane, Australia, Haiti will play England, the reigning European champions and the second-most likely team to win the competition.

It will be Theus’ biggest match of her career as it will be Haiti’s first-ever match at the competition.

She also sees it as a chance: the landmark that motivates the following generation.

Please, she says, “can you quote this in your article.” “This message is especially for the girls in Haiti: Keep pushing, keep going, and this moment will come to you too when the time is right.”


Theus and her teammates aim to bring attention to their country. She is mostly motivated by it and only thinks about it.

I’ve attended competitions when spectators yelled, “Haiti? What’s that,’ she continues.

“The largest stage is the World Cup. Your nation and name are well publicized.

“We want the entire world to be aware of Haiti and our abilities. Additionally, we aim to advance past the group stage.

Players from Haiti celebrate their qualification victory over Chile
In February, Haiti was ranked 55th in the world, 17 places behind Chile.
One of the last teams to qualify for the World Cup was Haiti, which defeated Chile in a play-off in New Zealand in February. in February in New Zealand.

The dramatic 2-1 triumph ebbed and flowed before midfielder Melchie Dumornay’s goal in the 98th minute put an end to it.

Right-back Chelsea Surpris, who spoke to the BBC World Service in February, adds, “It didn’t even take until getting back to the locker room for the tears to start.”

As soon as the whistle blew, some of us, including me, started sobbing uncontrollably.

“You were either sobbing, grinning, or just shouting as a release. Everything simply came together in a lovely way.

“We all just embraced each other so deeply and held each other so firmly. … all of us.

This Haitian football squad looks to the future because it lacks a rich football heritage to draw support from or flee from.

Haiti placed fourth at the Concacaf Championship in 1991. In five major tournaments since then, they have only won four games. They haven’t ever competed in an Olympic competition.

The team’s headquarters are in Croix-des-Bouquets, one of Port-au-Prince’s most underdeveloped neighborhoods. Although it is formally known as the Fifa Goal Center, everyone calls it “the Ranch.”

The first section of the training facility, which included an auditorium, an office, and player housing, opened in 2002.

At the former country mansion, 200 boys and girls who are 14 years old and older currently reside, train, and attend school.

The national team has unquestionably advanced much on the field. The women of Haiti made it to their first Under-20 World Cup in 2018.

Five years later, the core group is still together, and they easily defeated Senegal and Mexico in qualifiers.

The squad now believes that Haiti is not only there to fill out the roster.

Danielle Etienne, a midfielder, adds, “Yes, qualifying for the World Cup was another historical moment, but we’re supposed to be here.”

“People could claim that it was an accident, but my goodness, I believe that this was meant to be. We started our World Cup career as under-14s.

We took precautions to ensure that we wouldn’t have a similar opportunity in February to lament the fact that we came up short.

In May 2020, Theus will be visiting the Ranch wearing a mask.
2020 May at the Ranch with Theus
At the age of 14, Theus began working at the Ranch in 2013.

She initially tagged along because it was simpler than trying to separate her and her sister when they were first noticed.

“There was no goalkeeper in my age group,” she claims. “I didn’t want to play goal, but I learned the mechanics, like how to grip the ball and when and how to dive.

“It wasn’t at all like playing in the streets. No matter what, we always made time for two daily workouts.

We played practice games against the boys’ team, which helped us become faster and stronger.

The Ranch’s players shared a common upbringing. They have grown emotionally closer over the past few months.

Fifa issued a lifetime ban to Yves Jean-Bart, the president of the Haitian Football Federation, in November 2020 for allegedly harassing and abusing several young female football players at the Ranch and elsewhere.

According to Fifa’s inquiry, he “exercised an authoritarian regime” and “threatened and prevented potential victims and witnesses from giving testimony.”

Along with images from 2021, there were claims that the Ranch was housing kids in unsanitary and dangerous conditions.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport, however, reversed Jean-Bart’s punishment in February after determining that the evidence against him was “inconsistent, unclear, and contradictory”.

Since they were initially made, the charges have been categorically refuted by the 75-year-old. Fifa has, however, made an unusual appeal against Cas’ decision.

The three players who were questioned for this article declined to address the allegations directly but all highlighted how the team remained united in the face of difficulty.

Etienne explains, “We recognize we can control our attitude to it even though we can’t control what happened.

Surpris continues, “We’re not shaken by this, and we’re choosing not to dwell on the past or negativity.

We’re close-knit, and the majority of the crew shares this opinion, says Theus.

Hey, we’re here to display our abilities and capabilities. Let that speak for itself.

In 2013, Yves Jean-Bart (left) welcomes Sepp Blatter, a former president of Fifa, to Haiti.
In 2013, Yves Jean-Bart (left) welcomed Sepp Blatter, a former Fifa president, to Haiti.
At least on the field, football in Haiti is growing.

However, the Ranch’s unpredictability and instability mirror those of the country.

President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in July 2021. A month later, there were almost 2,000 fatalities from an earthquake. The UN estimated that 4.7 million Haitians were suffering from severe hunger in October 2022.

Gang violence is rife in Haiti. The final democratically elected authorities vacated their positions in February.

All of this is taking place while the Caribbean nation struggles to recover from a 2010 earthquake and cholera outbreak that killed over 100,000 people.

Theus, a 24-year-old goalkeeper, was 11 years old and residing in Port-au-Prince at the time.

Everyone lost their homes, she continues, and we had to live in a tent for a while.

“I was fortunate in not having any immediate family members who passed away. However, I do recall losing neighborhood buddies with whom I used to play football on the streets.

“I long for those times.

“At my age, it was a horrible time. It is exactly that. I don’t really discuss it all that much.

The World Cup and the associated media coverage may play a significant role in shifting the debate.

Etienne continues, “Many think we’re tough people because we go through so much.” “I believe that because of all of our triumphs, we are resilient.

The only successful slave uprising that resulted in a free country was the one we had. It’s sad that pain is sometimes all that is seen.

These small achievements demonstrate how much Haiti means to the world. We’re heading to a World Cup, and the men just finished playing in the Gold Cup.

“Yeah, there may be unpleasant things happening, but there are also many great things. Gold is still abundant in Haiti.

Haiti’s Port-au-Prince following the 2010 earthquake
The 2010 Haitian earthquake caused around 1.3 million individuals to become homeless.
This Haitian squad represents a worldwide nation, not simply one nation in one country.

In fact, not every member of the squad grew up with Theus. Others were born in the US, while others were born in Haiti. Others speak solely Creole, while others only speak English.

It is understandable that many Haitians have emigrated during the past 20 years. In the USA, there are over a million people with Haitian ancestry.

The squad also reflects that. In the US, Theus, Etienne, and Surpris all play club football.

The majority of the club resides in France, and on July 1, star midfielder Dumornay transferred from Reims to eight-time Champions League champion Lyon.

But if you talk to the Haitian players, you’ll quickly discover their camaraderie despite their varied upbringings.

Haiti is in the blood, it’s my family, it’s who I know, says Surpris, a former youth international for the United States.

The group shares a shared desire to give back to the country that gave them a good upbringing.

We are all Haitians, adds Etienne, regardless of where we were born—in Haiti or the United States.

“In the camps, we ensure that visitors from other places don’t feel alien.

“When I originally joined the squad at the age of 14, I didn’t even speak Creole. I am currently translating for my team.

“Once we had that base, integration was simple. We began to perceive each other as sisters as we grew older and more mature, in my opinion.

“A lot has been experienced together.”

Kerly Theus strikes the ball against Chile for Haiti.
Haiti has never participated in a major international competition, however its men’s team did make it to the group stage of the 1974 World Cup. Theus laughs. Her lovely, contagious smile is really wide.

“I was eager to conduct this interview. Everyone knows we play England in our first game because you are based in the UK, the speaker asserts.

Haiti is ranked 53rd in the world, whereas England is ranked fourth.

Haiti was destroyed 5-0 by Portugal in November. At the beginning of July, England had 23 shots in a friendly against Portugal that ended in a scoreless draw.

Etienne continues, “England are the big dogs and that’s granted.”

“We certainly respect them and are aware of their legacy, but we also want them to be closely followed.

“We’ll definitely fight them,” someone said.

Denmark, a two-time participant in the quarterfinals, and China, a past runner-up, are also in Group D.

At the competition this summer, Haiti will be the lopsided underdogs in every match.

However, that is perfect for them. Recall that nobody anticipated that they would make it through Chile.

Haiti has finally qualified after seven failed attempts. They have a venue to share their own narrative.

“It’s insane to think about being at a World Cup,” adds Surpris.

“I picture myself singing the national anthem while seated next to my teammates and listening to the clamor of the audience.

“It’s going to be incredible to be in such a surreal situation where you are just speechless.”

Etienne is just as fervent.

“I’m a ride-or-die Haitian,” she continues. “If you say something bad, I’ll counter with something uplifting.

“We live for moments like these. Without a doubt, we’re working to re-establish light in Haiti.

The squad is progressing and is a representation of change.

For this group, football is one of the few things that truly matters, but legacy is another.

For the subsequent generation of Haitian girls who will be watching on July 22 and eager to build on the team’s accomplishments, Theus reiterates this message:

“Keep going, keep driving, and this moment will be yours too when the time is right.”


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