Get To Know: Mikael Cantave
If you’re reading this, it means you’ve decided to give a chance to this idea I had. But before I tell you anything, let me introduce myself – Hi, my name is Audrey and I’m a sports photographer. I’ve been following the Canadian Premier League for a while now, mainly because I’m a football lover, but also because I’ve been lucky enough to meet amazing people along the way. This series was created to introduce you to these athletes from another pair of eyes – mine.
Starting now and until the end of the 2023 season, my goal is to write about 20 different CPL players in an article divided in two parts. If I’m being honest, the second part is probably the reason why you’ll want to follow along because it’s going to be built on a one-on-one interview done with the highlighted player. He will be answering 20 completely random questions that I will have asked him. The first part, however, is about me telling you the story of how I met him and why I think you should get to know the human behind the footballer.
Part One – How I Met Mikael Cantave
Mikael Cantave was signed to Cavalry FC in July 2022, but I only met him a couple of months later in September as I was visiting Spruce Meadows for the first time. Even if I didn’t personally know him at the time, I was still well aware of who he was – that one guy whose first CPL goal was a winning one against Forge FC. One thing I really love about football is that it connects people together and through common friends, and I was introduced to Miki a couple of days later.
The first thing that stood out to me was how down-to-earth he was and I knew it right away, when he introduced himself, that he was someone I could keep in my circle; a first impression that didn’t lie. As I definitely hope we’ll be seeing more of Miki on the pitch this season, it was a no-brainer for me that I wanted to start this series with him and give the readers an opportunity to meet the human behind the footballer.
Part Two – The 20 Completely Random Questions
1: What made you fall in love with football?
I would say Brazil. I started playing because it was a family thing. My father played, he was a coach and he was also a referee. My mother played and was a coach too. I grew up with my cousins and they also played, just like my little brother and me, so it was really a family thing. I started playing at around 5 years old, but what really made me fall in love with football I would say was Brazil. Ronaldinho, the Brazilian selection, and the way they play.
2: What’s the career highlight you’re most proud of so far?
I am proud to have played with the Haitian National Team. I have very good memories of those moments with the team.
3: If football wasn’t part of your life at all, which path would you have taken?
I really have no idea. I have no idea because since I was little, I always wanted to be a professional footballer and I never thought of a plan B. To be honest, I have no answer because it was a ‘do or die’ mindset for me.
4: You can sign, in your actual team, a player you’ve already played with. Tell me who it is, when did you share the pitch together, and why is he your choice?
My best friend Victor, he’s Brazilian. We met when we played together at Getafe, my first club in Spain. We met there, we lived together for a whole year and to this day he’s still my best friend, so yes – I would sign him.
5: Do you have any rituals on game day?
Not really. Yes and no. I try to disconnect in fact, not to think about the game. I have a meal routine where I eat 3 to 4 hours before the game, but I’m not so superstitious that I always eat the same thing. I try to treat match day as one more day where I want to have fun and enjoy myself on the pitch. The reason why I’m trying to disconnect is because in my opinion, all the work was done the week before the game and I don’t need anything else to be focused during the game. When the warm up begins, that’s when my focus starts.
6: You’re playing a five-on-five and the team has to be made of players you’ve shared the pitch with. You need to include a goalkeeper and yourself. Who are you calling up?
As goalkeeper, I take Johny Placide; he’s Haiti’s goalkeeper and captain. Including me, that leaves me with three players. Who did I play with? Ali Muse. Roberto Alarcon, I’ll take him too. For the last spot, I’m adding Duckens Nazon; he is our mainstay and our big brother in the national team.
7: Do you have a nickname? Where does it come from?
Miki. I don’t know where it comes from because I believe they’ve been calling me that since I was a baby. I have a video where my grandmother holds me in her arms and she calls me Miki already, I was maybe 5 months old. Until today it has remained, even in football !
8: How would your friends describe you?
I would say someone who is good, honest, disciplined and above all reliable. Someone mature, responsible, who likes to laugh and be a fool sometimes.
9: Do you have any tattoos? Which one is your favourite and what is the meaning behind it?
Yes, I have seven but I don’t think I have a favorite one. To be honest, I like them all equally because they all have a meaning. The first one is a maple leaf to represent Canada. I have religious tattoos, one that represents a passion of mine and another one that represents the path I have traveled in football so far. There is always an aesthetic side, that’s for sure, but I would never have a tattoo if there wasn’t a story associated with it.
10: What would you do if you won the lottery?
I would invest some of the money, but I would also give some to less fortunate people.
11: What’s your favourite holiday and why?
I’ve always loved Halloween, maybe because it’s close to my birthday and I’ve always associated both with good times. As a second answer, I would say New Year’s Eve because it’s something everyone celebrates, regardless of religion. It is a day when almost everyone on earth comes together.
12: What’s your go-to karaoke song?
Oh! I don’t have one. The thing is that I don’t have ONE song that I like, it really depends on the moment. I listen to a lot of different genres and the truth is that I get bored easily. I have this habit of changing a song after like 30 seconds or a minute. Basically, I’m not a guy who learns the lyrics but I like the instrumental much more. When I was little I really liked to dance and the beat always attracted me more than the lyrics.
13: What’s the best advice a family member has given you?
The first one that comes to mind is to go to bed early. Especially now that I’m getting older – well I’m 26, I know I’m still young but in football it’s almost considered old – and if I go to bed late, the next day I don’t feel the same. I don’t have the same energy, the same productivity and the same concentration. Most of the advice I have received in my life has always revolved around football.
14: How many languages do you speak, and how did you learn them?
I speak five-and-a-half languages, almost six. I speak English, French, Spanish and Portuguese at 100%, even with the accent. Then there’s Creole, which I speak and understand well and finally Romanian, which I understand and manage to speak a little.
I was born in Ottawa, my father is Haitian and my mother is from Guadeloupe. My father grew up speaking French, English and Creole, while my mother grew up speaking French. At home, my mother spoke to me in French and my father in English. As I grew up in a bilingual city, I went to a French school but those around me spoke English. I started Spanish at school when I was 6 years old and we spoke it a little at home, my parents loved Latin music. I became 100% fluent around the age of 17 after playing in Spain. I learned Portuguese when I was 15, on my own. As I told you earlier, my passion has always been Brazil and I always wanted to speak Portuguese because I had traveled to Brazil and I really liked the language. I was 15 and I had a lot of free time so I thought why not start learning on my own? I found a website to learn the basics and then a second website where I could chat with people who spoke Portuguese. It took me about 3 months and when I moved to Spain and met my best friend, we spoke Portuguese every day for a year so it stuck! The fifth one is Creole. I had the basics because of my childhood but I really learned it when I started playing in the national team. Even though most of the players spoke French, between them they often spoke in Creole so I learned it a little more. Finally I played a season in Romania before coming here to Canada, and since it remains a Latin language, the basics were quite similar to French and Spanish. I learned the small differences and it wasn’t too complicated. If I could add another language, it would probably be an Asian one like Japanese.
15: Who’s the most famous person on your phone whose number you have?
Probably some of my national team teammates who are well known in Haiti. Donald Guerrier or Duckens Nazon, I think they’re the most famous.
16: What do you look for in a friend?
Loyalty – it’s the most important thing to me.
17: What are you afraid of?
Not succeeding at what I do.
18: Which of your personality traits are you most proud of?
I would say kindness. I believe that everyone has a bit of mischief and it’s important, especially when you want to be respected. But yes, my kindness. To do the right thing, to have a good heart, to help people and to respect the people you love – it makes me proud.
19: What is something we don’t know about you?.
I have a little sister who’s a year and a half old. She lives in France and her name is Gabriella. Everyone knows my little brother, Matteo, but very few know about my little sister.
20: Who inspires you?
My little brother, I have a lot of admiration for him. He’s super independent and he never had the opportunities that I’ve had but it never stopped him. He is disciplined and he doesn’t let his emotions influence what he has to do, in the sense that if he has to do something he will do it no matter what. I have a lot of respect and admiration for him because of this. I would also add my parents, both in different ways. My mom for where she came from and where she ended up, and my dad for what he had to go through and where he is now.
Bonus Question: What’s your definition of happiness?
Happiness is when you can do what you love most in the world, make a living out of it and are able to be in the moment, without thinking about the past. Happiness is being so in the present moment that you lose track of time.