By Onz Chery
Looking out into the field, another young soccer talent could see her way out of Haiti in less than a year. Not just any young talent this time, but unarguably the most promising one Haiti has produced in recent years: Melchie Dumornay. She’s a versatile midfielder and a forward.
Named as Goal soccer news outlet’s fifth best teenage female player worldwide and the CONCACAF Women’s U-20’s record holder for most-goals in a tournament, Dumornay will turn 18 next year which will make her eligible to play club soccer overseas.
Therefore, the 2020-21 Haitian Women’s Soccer Championship campaign, which kicked off this weekend, could be her last season in Haiti. The rising star, once deemed too petite to play the sport, is determined to make the most out of her possible farewell season in her home country with Association Sportive Tigresses.
“The objective is to be crowned champion, finish the season on a beautiful note and leave with joyful memories with my teammates,” Dumornay recently said. “I’m ready for Europe, I’ve been working for it for a while. I will give it my all so I can show the value of my country, my value, and my family’s.”
From her home in Haiti’s youth national team’s center in Croix-des-Bouquets, a commune near Port-au-Prince, Dumornay said she has dreamt of playing overseas, particularly in Europe, since she could remember.
Tracing back to the beginning of her days with the Haitian women’s youth teams in 2013, not many people saw Europe in Dumornay’s future. Dumornay was so tiny compared to the other girls that she wasn’t even allowed to practice. She doesn’t recall her exact height and weight, but she remembers the other players towering over her by several heads.
Hailing from Mirebalais, a commune in the central department of Haiti, Dumornay grew up in a house of six other people: her mother, three brothers, and two cousins. She was known for being the little girl who was always playing soccer with boys who were older than her in the streets.
When Dumornay started playing with girls around her age at Association Sportive Mirebalais’ field, she was significantly better than them. Jean-Claude Josaphat, who was AS Mirebalais’ coach then, easily spotted her talent and brought her to Camp Nous, Haiti’s youth national team center. Dumornay was only 10.
After seeing her small stature, Haitian soccer federation officials were tempted to send Dumornay home. Especially since there wasn’t a team of her age group. But because she had already made the trip and the federation saw a little spark in her, they kept Dumornay at the center hoping that she would quickly grow.
Nicknamed Piti, which translates to small from Haitian Creole, Dumornay figured she simply needed to work even harder.
“When they called me small, I was like ‘Okay, what I have to do is prove myself on the field,’” she said. “That’s one of the things that motivated me: when people thought I was too small, thought I couldn’t send the ball in the air and shoot hard.”
Dumornay stood by one of the youth coaches, Wilner Lamarre, at every scrimmage session to badger him to sub her in. When she did not get to play, she got angry.
“If you didn’t let her play, she wouldn’t even walk past you,” Lamarre said.
Lamarre eventually surrendered and let her play with the older girls. It happened one day when he got irritated because a player had lost the ball during a scrimmage. He called on Dumornay to replace her.
“’Piti, come,’” Dumornay recalled hearing. “When I got up, they subbed me in for the other player. Oh, when I touched the ball, I expressed myself on the field. When I proved myself, everybody was surprised.”
Lamarre let her practice from then even though he wasn’t allowed to.
“I wasn’t scared to play Dumornay against any players,” he said. “I don’t even have to tell you how much trouble she got me into with the technical director [Wilner Etienne]. Because of her, I almost got fired. She was very, very small… but tough.”
Dumornay eventually got bigger physically and she got the official nod to play against the older players. She was later selected to play in the 2016 CONCACAF U-15 Championship at 12 years of age. During Les Grenadieres’ third game of the competition, she scored a hat trick in the first 35 minutes against Trinidad and Tobago at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
Back in Haiti, Dumornay joined the most successful women’s club, AS Tigresses. She netted five goals in the Haitian women’s league’s final in 2018 to help Tigresses win the national title by defeating Anacaona SC, 5-2. She won the league’s top scorer and best player award that season at just 15.
That same year, Dumornay also took home the CONCACAF U-17’s Golden Ball and she put up a phenomenal U-20 World Cup campaign. The midfielder caught the eyes of a powerclub in France, Olympique Lyonnais, who invited her for a trial.
Dumornay passed the trial but Lyon wasn’t able to sign her because she’s a foreigner and a minor. Hence, the starlet is back in the same spot she was in when she first joined Haiti’s youth teams: she’s waiting until she gets older. One year to go.
“I feel good about the wait,” Dumornay said. “The rules are tough but they’re the rules. I’m going to keep working, one day it’s going to happen. Maybe it won’t be with Lyon, only time will tell, but I will get in a big club.”
“I want to become one of the best players in the world, go to the World Cup with Haiti,” she added.