Puerto Rico U17 , outside the doors of the FCBEscola Dominican Republic | FCBEscola República Dominicana

The facilities at FCBEscola in the Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo are playing host to the Puerto Rico U17 Women’s team’s preparations for their final round of Caribbean qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup to be played in Uruguay. The youth team’s preparations for the games between 16-20 October in Haiti have been moved to neighbours the Dominican Republic due to damage inflicted on sporting facilities in Puerto Rico by the recent arrival of Hurricane María.

In the light of the natural disaster, the Puerto Rican Football Federation (FPF) moved quickly to allowed its players to continue their preparations for qualification to next year’s World Cup tournament and contacted the Dominican Republic’s Football Federation to request their help. The reply was to organise training session for the Puerto Rican team at the FCBEscola in Santo Domingo and at the ‘Proyecto Gol’ in San Cristóbal.

Despite the problems caused by the devastation by the hurricane in Puerto Rico, the Football Federation rejected the option of withdrawing from the qualifying competition. The squad travelled by sea last week to the Dominican capital and set to work immediately to get themselves ready for the crucial qualifying fixtures coming up. Puerto Rico are in a strong position in their group after the first round of qualifying matches following a 2-0 win over the Dominican Republic, an 8-1 success  over Bahamas and a 9-0 victory over Anguila.

The president of the Puerto Rican Football Federation, Eric Labrador, admitted the squad was “very grateful for the welcome received in the Dominican FCBEscola after the devastation suffered in our country following the passing of the two hurricanes, Irma and María.” Labrador also added: “This welcome has allowed us to keep training and put behind us the bad experience of the last few weeks.”

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