Five Bleu-blanc-noir players selected by Canada’s U21 team
What was formally known as the Toulon Tournament, now called the Festival international espoirs – Tournoi Maurice-Revello, is a tournament of good repute for young international players that was created in 1967, in France.
For the first time ever, Canada’s U21 team will feature in the tournament, and a few Impact players were summoned for the challenge.
“In France, it’s a very renowned and old tournament,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “There are always excellent teams and great matchups. A lot of players are discovered at this tournament. A couple of years ago, it was the tournament to refer to, even more so than right now.”
Players Shamit Shome and James Pantemis were selected by the U21 squad to join the team in France, along with Academy products Mathieu Choinière, Daniel Kinumbe, and Clément Bayiha, all from the U19 team.
“It’s going to be an amazing experience for us, and for Canada,” said goalkeeper James Pantemis. “It’s our first time playing in this tournament, and we’ll be looking to prove that we belong there. It’ll be a big opportunity for us.”
Impact midfielder Shamit Shome remembers seeing the 2017 edition of the tournament live on TV last year and remembers being impressed with the players and level of play.
“I love playing for my country,” said Shome. “It’s probably one of the biggest reasons I decided to turn pro. I got my first opportunity to play with the national team at the U18 level while I was at FC Edmonton’s academy. It’s an honour every time I can play for Canada, and this is a big tournament to do it in.”
Over the years, some of the best in the world have passed through this tournament’s gates, including Zinédine Zidane, Thierry Henry, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, to name a few. Since its inception, the tournament has been a hotbed for the discovery of unknown talents from all four corners of the world.
“They’ll have an opportunity to mingle with very good teams and experience a level of play that may be a little more difficult to find regularly on the North American continent,” added Garde. “It’ll be quite an experience, and it’s very positive for the players going.”