Caribbean Cup: While we were sleeping!

While the Haitian public was drugged with FHF propaganda, the crown of the Caribbean Cup went to...Curacao! Surprised? Well, you should not. The small Caribbean island which is almost half the size of Ile de la Gonave has been on the rise since 2014. Their small size and small population of just 159,000 people has not deterred them from thinking big. Their long run of successes culminated a few days ago when they beat the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica 2-1 to win the Caribbean Cup. How did they do it?

Considering their limits due to their population size, the Curaçaons adopted a similar approach to Antigua which in 2012 kicked us out of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. They expertly combine homegrown talents with overseas players to build stronger national teams than what they would normally have with just one set of players. In their roster for the Caribbean Cup and Gold Cup 8 players of the Curacao team were born on the island and three are still playing in their national league! Yes, Curacao has just won the Caribbean Cup with 3 local players and 5 expatriates!

Curacao is a Dutch dependency and they could easily hire a dutch coach to stay in the Netherlands and build a 'national team' for the island without any connection with the local league. Yet, that is not what the Curacaons did. They apparently do not want a "Dutch" national team to represent them. They want their own team and they got it! We know of similar approaches throughout the Caribbean. In fact the two French departments at the Gold Cup are a prime example. French Guyana which humiliated an almost entirely foreign-player Haitian team right in Port-au-Prince has brought 8 local players to the Gold Cup and many more players who were born in the department but are currently playing abroad!

The FHF, mainly its president Yves Jean-Bart, often argues that Haiti needs 'professional' players to compete against the best in CONCACAF even though some of those 'professionals' are actually players of the French lower level amateur divisions. The word professional is often used to actually mean 'Non-Haiti-based players'. In his mind a player from Bangladesh or Dominican Republic is eligible because he is a 'professional' regardless of actual talent and skills. Ironically, Martinique is often wrongly used as an example of a team that use 'French players' to dominate CONCACAF. Lies!

In fact, Martinique despite being an outer department of France is very proud of its own local football. In Martinique, the players coming from abroad are actually called 'foreign' players even though they were technically born in the same country as everyone in Martinique since the whole island is actually part of France. A quick look at their roster shows that their current Gold Cup team count 18 players born in Martinique of whom 16 are actually local players!

If neglecting football development and blocking local players from the national team to rely on France to provide us with players for our own national team was such a great idea why French dependencies in the Caribbean with far more access to France-based players reject it? The simple response is that it is counter-productive and unreliable. Although all three islands mentioned are foreign dependencies with naturally larger foreign-based diasporas in Europe, neither wants to shut down their local football to focus solely on searching for foreign-based players. They are small but not dumb. 

We wish good luck to our Caribbean representatives Jamaica, Curacao, French Guyane, and Martinique at the Gold Cup.

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