LAVALE, QC – Seven years ago, the Haitian diaspora in Montreal fulfilled a crazy dream: to win an international ball hockey tournament with their home country. On the eve of the upcoming World Championships, the team is determined to prove itself again this summer, here in Quebec.
“It’s good to talk about 2015, but we’re in 2022! We like to talk about 2022 because 2015 is starting to go way too far back,” noted Patrick Cherry, author of the winning goal that allowed Haiti to take the gold at the time.
So, in its first-ever World Hockey Ball tournament in 2015, Haiti saw Cinderella’s tournament during which she was unexpectedly crowned Group B champion. In Switzerland, Haiti captured the measurements of Armenia, France, the United Kingdom and finally the Cayman Islands to climb to the top.
Since then, without saying the cart has turned into a pumpkin, the Haitian Hockey Association has had to tackle the task of revising its plan of attack to regain last year’s charm.
It would be a good time because Haiti can count on the support of its supporters. The 2022 World Championships is set to take place at the end of June in Laval, the Canadian press has learned.
First, it’s a redesigned formation that will appear at Place Bell where there will be a lot of fresh blood. Among the starters joining the squad will be former QMJHL defender Bay Como Drakkar, Zachary Saint-Souren and forward Sandric Brissard Cadet in the first edition.
“I got into the team and didn’t know anyone. Now I call the guys on the weekends to discuss anything,” Brisard Cadet said. “We are really united and I think that will help us take us to the next level.
Patrick Raphael, who will be in his fourth world championship, agrees.
“We are so united. We spend a lot of time together and encourage each other. Having done the other releases, I find this one, in terms of teamwork ethos, to be among the best, if not the best.”
And if the players divorced the importance of this fraternity, it is because the team suffered from a lack of cohesion during the last tournament.
After finishing fourth in 2017, the blue, white and red holders underperformed in 2019, not winning a match in a tournament peppered with indiscipline among the Grenadiers. What can they improve?
Chéry summed it all up.
He said magic is not revealed by snapping your fingers
The other aspect that Haitian training has taken over is fitness. The Canadian Press saw a training session nearly a month before the tournament, during which intensity and aggression were part of the match, as well as fun and excitement.
After a few exercises focused on positioning and tactical plans recommended by the coaches, they were left in the care of their physical trainer. The latter did not spare the energy of the players, who unfortunately missed out on physical training this week.
“The ‘Haiti’ team has been ready since the opening of the training camp in October,” said veteran Carl Simeon. “Since then, we’ve been training five to six times a week, just to win the world championship. We’re ready.”
The efforts paid off during the preparatory matches. In view of the summer tournament, the Haitian team has notably defeated Italy and Armenia in recent weeks.
“The guys this season are very passionate and very motivated, and the rhythm of that energy is one of the biggest challenges we face,” said club assistant coach and former player Mike Phils-Aimee.
“You have to separate the moments to be funny and serious, but make sure you are constantly having fun,” he added.
Hockey as a means of good deeds
This enthusiasm and this pride is felt on the ground, but also abroad for these Quebecers of Haitian descent.
Fils-Aimé recalls: “Of course there is hockey, but there are many things we do besides hockey. We want to help the community. Yes, hockey is the beautiful interface that people see, but we see it bigger. There are projects that we will unveil soon and people will see that More than just a team, it’s a family.
If the community requests to be occupied, the team members have already done so.
“I find it amazing [d’être dans l’équipe]. I’ve always been the only Haitian on my team, even in the league. “If you are with 25 guys who are like me, who all have the same energy as me and have the same background, it makes us have a special relationship,” Brisard Cadet said.
Note that these Brigade of Hope holders not only have to juggle family, work, training and pressure to represent the country, but they also have to make financial sacrifices to sign up for the team.
The panacea for all his ailments remains as in all sports, victory.
“I don’t know if I read the future, but don’t worry, we’ll bring back the gold,” said Brisard Cadet.
Sponsorship of grenadines is certainly more convenient during this edition, which will take place in a well-known area.