Football has a long history in Dominican Republic, but it has spent that time as the minority sport to baseball. Baseball is by far the most popular game in the country, evidenced in the fact that after the USA, it is the Dominican Republic that provides the most players to Major League Baseball. Results on the football pitch seem to show that perhaps the attraction of baseball, with its lure of a professional career in the ‘majors’, to young sports people costs the football team a chance of success. As mentioned, international football has been played since the 1950s, but there essentially no success to write about. Even the minor regional competitions have proved a step too far, with mere qualification a success in itself. Things seemed to be taking a upward curve in the earlier part of this decade, seeing them building year-on-year to reach the second round of World Cup 2014 qualifiers in 2011, qualify for the Caribbean Cup for the first time over twenty years in 2012, and peaking in 2013 with a FIFA ranking of 78 (which put them well above of ‘Home Nation’ Northern Ireland at that time). Sadly, this progression was not maintained and today, in 2019, they are ranked at 155 in the world and have not been to a Caribbean Cup since.
Jonathon Fana is the nation’s most famous player, and has really been their star since his debut at 19. At club level he is what some would call a journeyman footballer, having played for ten clubs (three of them more than once) in seven countries in fifteen years. He is the either the top scorer or the second highest scorer for the team, depending on which articles you believe. Indeed, his own Wikipedia page gives three different numbers for how many international goals he has, so I will err on the side of caution and say that he’s scored at least 19 at this point.
The shirt itself is quite nice, with very striking colours and design. It also comes with fully embroidered logos which is always nice to see on the smaller nations, the red panel is actually a separate piece of material than the blue and not merely sublimated, as well as textured materials on the underarm. All in all, it gives the shirt a higher quality look that is sometimes lacking at that level. I see the point made fellow collector Kris that it could equally be a squash tshirt as a football shirt but I do like what Walon were trying here. Where Walon definitely get a ‘must try harder’, is for their quality control on aspects of the design. On the batch of shirts mine came from, the sleeves are backwards compared to other batches (the flash on the sleeve goes from front to back instead of back to front, in case you’re wondering). In addition to that, this does not have a Walon logo on the back of the shirt, which some others do. If you look around the internet hard enough, you can see versions of both. There are similar variations on two Peru shorts from Walon that I own, which I will post at some point.