A Haiti international plying his trade in the Czech Republic? A slightly odd combination I know – here’s the lowdown…
A rarity for a Haitian footballer to be playing his football in Eastern Europe, you may say, not least in the Czech Republic. Two very different environments, cultures and reputations within the game. However, Kevin Lafrance – having moved to the country in 2007 – has settled in just fine.
We must take into account that Lafrance was born in France and that is where he learned his trade, therefore grew up in much different surroundings than what he could have endured in Haiti – the home of his parents. But still, the Haitian beliefs run in the veins and the resources in Bondy, a suburb of Paris – where Lafrance spent his childhood – are not of the highest quality anyway.
The Gambrinus liga, the Czech top-flight, is undoubtedly played at a much higher level and intensity than France’s lower divisions so as a 17-year-old foreigner originating from a tiny island in the Caribbean – it was always going to be a big ask to adapt. Not to forget the weather conditions, too. You can imagine Lafrance still dreads the cold December midweek matches despite having been based in the country for five years.
And although the central defender has learned to change his game and make the transitional switch of playing in a different country and league – he still hasn’t had the most easiest of times trying to cement a place in the first team with Banik Most whom he signed for back in 2007.
Up to 2010, it so all going so swimmingly well. In those three years, 38 appearances and three goals were achieved and he was earning rave reviews for his highly consistent performances. But in that year, fellow Czech team Slavia Prague came calling and off he went on loan where he made just six appearances.
This was a mentally tough time for Lafrance – who was so used to featuring prominently for Most but now found himself restricted to just several first team opportunities and even more, shipped out on loan. For the 2011-2012 campaign, he moved to Viktoria Zizkov, again on a loan deal, where he made just 15 appearances scoring twice – mainly being utilised as a bit-part player.
Due to Lafrance’s versatility and ability to play a wide variety of positions across the back and deep midfield – it was easy for coaches to drop him in and out of the team when necessary. And to be fair to him, he showed a real sign of maturity and professionalism in a period when family were far away and environments were still getting used to.
Nowadays? He’s once more on loan from Most with FK Pribram – a top flight Czech outfit who finished 11th in the Gambrinus liga last term. But clearly Most must see something in him otherwise they would have sold him by now. And he potentially could become one of Haiti’s greatest ever defenders having only made four caps for the national team since his debut in 2010 – there is lots of room for more games.
At just 22, there is still plenty of time left for Lafrance to continue his development and enhance his chances of securing first team football whether it be in the Czech Republic or not. Just like the good old days.
By Nathan Carr