Haiti’s team qualified for the Women’s World Cup 2023
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Theus plays goalkeeper for Haiti’s women’s national team and stands 5’4″.

I have been talking to her for the last 40 minutes about her career, her country, and her childhood. Even her earthquake-related friends have been discussed.

In the back of her mind, something has been bubbling up, a point she has been trying to convey for a long time.

The Women’s World Cup will take place in Brisbane, Australia, in less than two weeks. Haiti will face England, the European Champions and second favourites behind the United States.

Theus will be playing her biggest match of the career as it is Haiti’s first match at the competition.

Moreover, she sees it as an opportunity: a fixture that will inspire the next generation.

Is it possible to quote this in your article, please?” she asks. In particular, I would like to send a message to the girls in Haiti: ‘Keep pushing, keep driving, and when your time comes, you’ll have it too.'”

Theus wants to propel her nation into the spotlight with the help of her teammates. She cannot think of anything else. It is the only thing that motivates her.

“I have been to tournaments where people have asked ‘Haiti? What is that?'” she adds.

“The World Cup is the biggest stage. Your country, your name is everywhere at the World Cup.

In addition to getting past the group stage, we want the world to know about Haiti and its talent.”

Haiti were ranked 55th in the world in February, 17 places below Chile

As one of the last teams to qualify for the World Cup, Haiti defeated Chile in a play-off in New Zealand in February. In February, I was in New Zealand.

A tense 2-1 victory was finally settled by midfielder Melchie Dumornay’s 98th-minute goal.

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

Several of us, including myself, were in tears as soon as the whistle blew.

It all came together in a beautiful way, whether you cried, smiled or screamed as part of a release.

All of us held each other so tightly and really just embraced each other.

Haitian football looks forward – there is no legacy to lean on or run from.

Haiti finished fourth at the 1991 Concacaf Championship. In five major tournaments since then, they have won just four matches. There has never been an Olympic game played by them.

A poor suburb of Port-au-Prince, Croix-des-Bouquets, is the team’s base. Although it is officially called the FIFA Goal Center, everyone calls it ‘the Ranch’.

An auditorium, administrative office, and dormitories for players were opened as part of the first phase of the training complex in 2002.

Approximately 200 boys and girls aged 14 and older live, train, and attend school at the former country mansion today.

There is no doubt that the national team has made substantial progress on the pitch. Haiti’s women reached the Under-20 World Cup for the first time in 2018.

After five years, the core squad won comfortably over Mexico and Senegal in qualifiers.

A change of mindset has taken place within the squad: Haiti isn’t just here to make up the numbers.

Danielle Etienne says, “Qualifying for the World Cup was another history-making moment, but we’re supposed to be here.”

“People may say it was an accident, but I think it was our destiny. From under-14s, we were on a journey to the World Cup.

In February, we made sure not to have another chance to say, ‘Dang, we were so close but didn’t make it.'”

Haiti have never played in a global major tournament though their men's side did reach the group stage of the 1974 World Cup

Our time is running out. A chuckle erupts from Theus. Warmth and infectiousness emanate from her wide smile.

Considering you are in the UK and that England is our first opponent, I’m thrilled to do this interview,” she says.

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

Haiti was thrashed 5-0 by Portugal in November. The English scored 23 shots in a 0-0 draw with Portugal at the start of July.

Etienne says England is the big dog, and that’s a given.

Our respect for them and our understanding of their legacy is undeniable, but at the same time, we want them to be on their toes.

There’s no doubt we’ll fight them.”

A two-time quarter-finalist Denmark and a one-time runner-up China also make up Group D.

It will be Haiti’s overwhelming underdog status in every match at this summer’s competition.

However, that suits them just fine. There was no expectation that they would make it past Chile.

Having failed seven times to qualify, Haiti has finally made it. Having a platform to tell their own story is important to them.

“Imagining yourself at a World Cup is insane,” Surpris says.

Standing together with my team-mates and listening to the roar of the crowd, I think about singing the national anthem.

“It will be incredible to be in such a surreal moment where you are speechless.”

He is equally zealous as Etienne.

“I am a Haitian who rides or dies for her country,” she says. It is impossible for me to respond negatively without pushing back with something positive.

“These are the moments that we live for. We’re doing our best to bring back the light to Haiti.”

As a symbol of change, the team is on an upward trajectory.

There are few things more important to this group than football, but legacy is definitely one of them.

For the next generation of Haitian girls watching on 22 July, eager to build on the success of the team, Theus repeats that message:

When the time is right, you’ll have this moment too. Keep pushing, keep driving, and you too will have it.