Playing in a World Cup at any level is a dream for every young soccer player. Nights laying in bed envisioning themselves representing their nation on the biggest stage is what keeps most players up at night.
For Milan Pierre-Jerome that dream could soon be reality as she joins the under-20 Haitian Women’s National team for camp in France. With China, Nigeria, and Germany awaiting them when the Under-20 Women’s World Cup begins in August, the South Florida local joins her Haitian teammates for what she hopes is a deep run in the tournament.
Though Pierre-Jerome and Haiti are no stranger to international tournaments. Just a short few months ago she was joining an under-17 side for Haiti that nearly shocked the world. After playing both Mexico and the United States close in both games, they fell just short of World Cup qualification in the 89th minute to Canada. “The experience was unforgettable” Milan describes.
Performances similar to those previous, and the ones that granted this under-20 side a World Cup berth, have turned heads amongst those paying attention. Haiti seems to have its own approach to the worlds game, and good luck keeping up. The nation plays with a power and pace that knocks the wind out of most opponents. Pierre-Jerome describes “Haitian footballing culture is different in many ways. Beginning with the speed of play, there is no one standing still on the field. Everyone is constantly moving, finding ways to receive the ball and being available for the next play. The soccer in Haiti is played at a very high pace where you can't hold on to the ball for a long period of time.”
This style of play is what Milan and her teammates believe will take them far in the August tournament. There is an energy and passion in camp that has those involved feeling inspired. “Every single player I play with loves this game unconditionally. No matter where they are they will find a ball and play with their feet. Even here in France when we went to the beach to relax we took a soccer ball, drew a field with our feet in the sand, and played soccer.” says Milan.
This experience is something the young player hopes to bring back to Florida when ECNL play begins later this Fall. Milan explains “Traveling abroad has really helped aid in my player development because I am playing against players internationally. This means I play against and learn from the different styles of play. I have the opportunity to play against the top players all over the world and it really pushes me to work even harder every time I step on the field. From this experience, I have definitely learned how to take a leadership role on the field. I have also learned that speed of play partakes in a major role on the field and I am looking forward to working at this rate in the upcoming ECNL season!”