Though the 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup is still some time away, hosts Bahamas are already counting down the days to the start of the tournament, to be held in Nassau between 27 April and 7 May next year.
Currently halfway through a warm-up tour of Europe, The Baha Boyz broke off from their busy agenda to visit the Home of FIFA, enjoy a little training and speak exclusively to FIFA.com about the upcoming competition.
Broad smiles, big dreams
“All the players are dreaming of the prospect of playing in the World Cup,” said team captain and defender Gavin Christie, speaking after a training session in Zurich. The 34-year-old, who plays for Cavalier FC, added: “It’s going to be very exciting for all the players, but we’re also excited about playing for our country. Having the fans’ support and feeling them behind us will be a big advantage for the players on the pitch.”
Expressing his feelings at the prospect of playing in the world finals on home sand, 27-year-old forward Lesly St Fleur said: “I’m very excited because it will be in our country. We’ll have to give everything, both for the team and the country.” One year his senior, defender Kyle Williams, who plays his club beach soccer for Bears FC, said: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Though next year’s Beach Soccer World Cup will be the first in Bahamas’ history, the 11-a-side pedigree of many of their players and the lengthy preparations they are engaged in mean there will be no inferiority complex when they take on the world’s best. “We play the game professionally, so we’ll be ready to face the big teams. We’ll be prepared,” commented St Fleur, who has been running out for Jamaican outfit Montego Bay United since 2012.
In hosting the world finals, the Bahamanians also have objectives to pursue off the pitch, namely showcasing their wonderful country to the rest of the world, as Williams explained: “It’s going to be fantastic to have so many countries coming to ours. They’re going to get a taste of what the Bahamas are all about, like the food and the culture.” For his part, Christie said: “Bahamas is a wonderful place for music and beach soccer.”
Though determined to offer the world a warm welcome and stage a show to remember, the hosts also have designs on making the trophy theirs. “We hope to be the champions,” said St Fleur, expressing the extent of their ambitions, while Williams signed off by saying: “We really want to go and represent our country.”