Valour FC defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste sat down with the CanPL.ca Newsroom crew this week, fresh off the first few days of pre-season training camp (which began for the Winnipeg-based club on Monday).
The Haitian international has been in Manitoba for a month, since driving all the way from his home in New York City — including, apparently, a race from Chicago to the Canadian border to arrive before immigration officials went home for the day. Jean-Baptiste had to quarantine in Winnipeg, and COVID restrictions have meant he still hasn’t experienced much of the city he’ll now be representing for a second year.
“I’ve heard a lot of great things about Winnipeg, I’ve just yet to see it,” he joked.
He’s here now, though, which is great news for Valour: the centre-back was part of their much-improved backline at the Island Games in 2020, and he’s sure to be a keystone of the defence once again.
So far, Jean-Baptiste has been pretty excited by what he’s seen from the revamped Valour squad in training.
“Looking at the guys that we had from last year, I’m just like, okay we’re still putting together a core group of guys and we’re definitely gonna compete,” Jean-Baptiste said on the podcast. “But then I started seeing some of the other talent that Rob (Gale) brought in, took time scouting and bringing in for us, and… I don’t wanna jinx anything but it’s gonna be a very exciting season to watch us play.
“We’re gonna have a lot of exciting players for people to really get attached and enjoy watching. I think that’s the most important thing: You guys are gonna enjoy watching us this year.”
Valour came close to making the top four at the Island Games, but they ended up in sixth after falling on the final day of the first round. This time around, Jean-Baptiste is hoping they can improve on that. Judging by some of the goals he’s seen scored in training, Valour has some real firepower.
“Moses (Dyer) actually banged in a lefty today, it was absolutely beautiful,” Jean-Baptiste revealed. “I mean, he scored against me but I had to clap it up.
“We’ve got some bangers on this team, I’ll tell you that right now.”
Well beyond soccer, Jean-Baptiste chatted about all sorts of things with the Newsroom. He broke down, in detail, his post-soccer dream of opening a food truck — be sure to listen for his extensive menu options and well-designed business plan.
To hear the full interview with Andrew Jean-Baptiste, as well as the rest of the CanPL.ca Newsroom podcast for this week, click here.