This World Cup is showcasing what so many of us already know and love about Canada: we are an incredibly diverse, vibrant and accepting culture.
At our Soccer Nation viewing party in Vancouver, the Britannia Micro Footie Soccer Club stole the spotlight. At first glance, the Micro Footie program looks like any other youth soccer club in our country – co-ed, a place for young boys and girls to get out and play the game. But, there’s much more to this club’s story.
Jason Kyle was a young, soccer enthusiast when he started the club in 2003 – and just 30 players signed up. In the past 10 years the club has multiplied, 1,100 players now participate on an annual basis. The best part? Most of the coaches, managers and referees are graduates of the Micro Footie program.
Playing is the easy part – it’s passing on what these players-turned-coaches, turned-managers, turned-referees have learned: teamwork, friendship, sportsmanship.
Oil country supports World Cup
When we went to Edmonton, the Soccer Nation event coincided with the Germany-Ghana match. Dominic caught my attention when he won one of the kid-friendly soccer skills competitions.
What impressed me more than his ball handling was the reason why he was wearing a Ghana jersey and matching shorts, “Well, I watched them play in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and they’ve been my favorite team ever since.”
Well travelled, well informed, and maybe 12 years old.
Put your Colombian cheering hat on
The Colombian fans in Montreal showed me something special. When James Rodriguez wasn’t scoring incredible goals, I was staring at the beautiful hats some of the Colombian fans were wearing.
One of the fans I spoke to explained to me the sombrero volteado is a telltale sign you’ve found an authentic Colombian football fan. The volteado is typically Colombian and expensive – that’s because it can only be made from a type of cane leaf that grows in the northern part of the country.
The sombreros are made by hand and can take up to 27 days to complete. The fan I spoke to said wearing his hat helps him remember where he came from and helps other Colombians living in Canada identify one another.
The South American fans I’ve met on our tour have been some of the most memorable.
In Ottawa, I met a Costa-Rican family of four. They weren’t hard to miss because their blue jerseys and their loud “Olé, olé, olé,” chants echoed through Sparks Street.
The mother of the Rodriguez family made it clear why she was there, “soccer is in my blood.”
Her son Diego felt that way too, while he admitted he was only half Costa-Rican, he was taking full advantage of celebrating Costa-Rica’s historic quarter-final appearance with his family. He told me having to wait four years to celebrate like this with his family makes every moment extra special.
The CIBC Soccer Nation Tour wraps up Saturday and Sunday in Toronto.
Through the journey, Canadians have constantly reminded me that support for the beautiful game is alive and well – bringing families and cultures together to enjoy the experience.
For the past month, Carly Agro has been covering the CIBC Soccer Nation tour, filing reports for CBC.