Simeon Jackson, second from left, will be a key figure for Canada at the Gold Cup. (Canadian Press)
It is a wonderful time for Canadian sports fans. A Canadian team is playing for the Stanley Cup for the first time in four years. A Canadian team is going to Germany, prepared and focused on success at the FIFA Women's World Cup
Even the youngsters are getting in on the act. Canada will be represented at the FIFA U-17 World Cup
, something that hasn't happened since 1995.
Then there's the team we'd love to love. Canada will soon embark on another World Cup qualifying cycle. Brazil 2014 is the target. Make no mistake; what happens over the next month will directly impact on the search for the Holy Grail.
Momentum has to start somewhere and for Canada it must start rolling soon. This month's CONCACAF Gold Cup gives Canada the opportunity to begin gathering pace, both on and off the field. It is time for Canada to stop apologising and make a soccer statement.
Players, coaches, fans and the media must commit. Everyone who cares about soccer in this country must beat the drum and help raise the profile. This is not about one city or one franchise. This is Canada's national team and it needs you. Canadian national team needs you
It needs you and me to care. It needs you and me to talk, to argue, to agree and to debate. It needs us to be passionate, informed and entertained. It implores us to invest time and energy to be proud supporters of a team which wants nothing but to matter.
What we do matters. The choices we make are important. If we decide it's only soccer and Canada cannot run the game, never mind play it, we are sentencing this team to a fate worse than losing. We are condemning it to obscurity.
We have the power to change that. If we are prepared to stand up for this team and embrace it as our own, we can make a difference. When enough people speak with conviction and with one voice, those in authority are forced to listen.
This is not about hockey versus soccer. It never can be and never should be. As a new Canadian, I fervently hope the Vancouver Canucks win it all. Not because I am a Canucks fans but because I want to see a Canadian team victorious.
I was raised on a sports diet of soccer, cricket and golf. I took time to learn about them all, play them all and, as a result, appreciate them all to this day. In other words it's OK to love hockey and soccer and celebrate both in equal measure.
Mainstream media sees it differently. TV and newsprint will fill your mind with hockey to the exclusion of almost everything else - including soccer. They do this because it makes them money. And sports which make money will always come before those that don't.
The irony is not lost on those of us who were born beyond Canada's borders. It is no different anywhere else. High profile sports make money for broadcasters and press barons alike. In most of the rest of the world, soccer is the absolute dominating force.
Many of us follow the English Premier League from afar. It is our dollars which keep it at the top of the world financial league. The sale of overseas rights is just one way the cash rolls in and gives the clubs the spending power to attract many of the planet's top players.
Most of us have enjoyed watching young striker Junior Hoilett making a name for himself at Blackburn Rovers. All of us are hoping the Brampton, Ont., native commits to the country of his birth and becomes a Canadian international sooner rather than later. Simeon Jackson a bright light for Canada
With a bit of luck Hoilett will have a fellow Canuck to play against next season. Simeon Jackson's late season goal spree launched Norwich City back into the big time. Jackson could happily take some time off and prepare for the biggest test of his career.
His vacation will have to wait. Jackson will spend part of his summer playing for Canada at the Gold Cup. At age 24 he is a star in the making. Impactful, intelligent and athletic, he is a marketer's dream. More importantly, Jackson, born in Jamaica, is committed to playing for Canada.
Which reminds me. Let's stop moaning and groaning about the ones who got away. The ones who were cut or who chose a different country had their reasons. Good luck to them. How about we cherish the ones who chose to stay and for whom pride is pulling on a Canadian jersey.
They are the players who deserve our respect. These are the men who will try their best in the Gold Cup and who will form the nucleus of the World Cup qualifying roster. Give them your support and you give them a chance.
No need to jump on the Canucks' bandwagon. It is full and they can win the Stanley Cup without you. Jump on Canada's bandwagon and enjoy the ride.
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