BURNABY, BC — The French language has long inspired romance. It relaxes the mind. It is the language of serenity, of serendipity, of… soccer?
That’s the case at Vancouver Whitecaps FC training these days.
The Caps' preseason roster comprises an eclectic collection of players who’ve come from all corners of the Earth, and French is often the language heard during conversations.
“When I first came to the team there was only one other player who spoke French,” Cameroonian midfielder Alexandre Morfaw (above) said. “Now that there are more players who speak French, it makes the integration easier. I feel more at ease.”
No less than six preseason players count French as their native tongue, including Morfaw, Davide Chiumiento and Ridge Mobulu of Switzerland, Bedri Gashi of Kosovo, and Mouloud Akloul of France. The sixth player is Quebecois winger Philippe Davies.
“I think that soccer is international, many teams have foreign players,” Chiumiento said. “It’s good to have a mix.”
While it’s true that most professional clubs have foreign players, it’s not every day that they find a group of teammates who speak their language.
“I’ve been on clubs where no one else spoke French,” Morfaw said. “But now it’s a lot more interesting (having teammates who speak French). We joke more, and if there are things that I don’t know how to say in English, I can just say it in French. It makes for a good atmosphere in the team and it makes the transition much easier.”
The French connection has been of great benefit to these international players, and not only for conversation amongst one another. Head coach Teitur Thordason can also talk en Français, one of eight languages the Icelandic manager speaks.
“Sometimes we don’t feel so good and there are things that we’d like to express, but in English we don’t really have the words,” Morfaw explained. “With a coach that speaks your language, it makes life a little easier.”
French also helps in the social transition to life in Vancouver as well, n'est-ce pas?
“I think that the ladies like it,” Morfaw said.
For other Francophone players though, the key to romance comes from elsewhere. Chiumiento, for one, doesn’t think that his French vernacular is what attracts the ladies.
“I prefer Italian,” he said.