LE FRANCOIS, Martinique – Club Franciscain FW Patrick Percin may be 41 years old, but he comes across as an excited 19-year-old when talking about the Martinique side’s upcoming Scotiabank CONCACAF League tie versus Walter Ferretti of Nicaragua on August 1 and 8.
“It’s like a dream,” said Percin in an exclusive interview with CONCACAF.com. “It’s a great chance to play versus professional players and is the culmination of effort and hard work. We get a lot of satisfaction from that,” added Percin.
Percin’s enthusiasm is understandable. Club Franciscain achieved one of the most impressive feats in recent CONCACAF club history by winning the Caribbean Club Shield – a tournament started by CONCACAF in 2018 featuring the top amateur clubs in the Caribbean – and then defeating Central FC of Trinidad and Tobago 2-1 in a playoff to earn a spot in the 2018 SCL.
It was the tactics deployed by Jamaica’s Portmore United in its 2-1 defeat of Central FC in the Caribbean Club Championship third-place match that proved pivotal to Club Franciscain’s success in the playoff.
“We were not the favorites [against Central FC]. Nobody thought that an amateur club could qualify but we knew from watching the third-place game that we could achieve the victory,” said Percin.
The big stage of the SCL now awaits the island club. This could be intimidating for some teams, but it should not be a problem for Club Franciscain, who had six players represent Martinique at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
“We’re definitely motivated [to be in the SCL] but at the same time it’s a bit scary because there will be more pressure to perform well. However, we have a lot of players who have played with the Martinique National Team in Gold Cups, so they are used to the pressure,” said Percin.
Without a question, Club Franciscain’s inspirational story will make them a team that many neutrals will back in the SCL. In many ways, not only are they playing for the club and the island of Martinique, but for non-professional and semi-professional clubs across the region.
“We do feel we are playing for all of the amateur clubs across the Caribbean. We represent all of the small clubs,” said Percin.
Martinique’s 2017 Gold Cup campaign will not only help Club Franciscain when it comes to dealing with the pressure of competition, but also on how to face Nicaraguan competition. In light of Martinique’s 2-0 Gold Cup win over Nicaragua last summer, Club Franciscain like their chances of reaching the quarterfinals.
“We have watched some Walter Ferretti matches on video so we know them a little bit. I think the first 15-20 minutes will be crucial to make sure we play well. We have played against Nicaragua at Gold Cups so we are familiar with Nicaragua football in that aspect,” said Percin.
No matter what happens though, what Percin and Club Franciscain have already achieved is noteworthy and exemplifies the vision set forth by CONCACAF with the Caribbean Club Shield.
It is Percin’s hope to see many more clubs from the islands feature in major CONCACAF competitions in the future.
“I think it is an excellent initiative and one that should have been implemented earlier. It’s great that now Caribbean clubs can play these high-level games on home turf,” concluded Percin.