London's biggest soccer centre hosts World Cup watch party
Hundreds of soccer fans gathered for the first Canadian men's game since 1986
What might be London's largest World Cup Watch party took place at BMO Centre — the southwestern Ontario city's largest indoor soccer facility.
Hundreds of fans gathered at the facility to watch Team Canada take on Belgium in Canada's first men's team entry in the international tournament since 1986. Canada gave a valiant effort, but lost to Belgium 1-0.
BMO Centre had announced earlier it would open the building's largest meeting room for the public to watch the hotly anticipated match on a projector screen for free.
"It's amazing to see people from all over the world actually identifying as Canadian and coming together," said Jonathan O'Neill, one of the players from London TFC, who came to see Canada play with his adopted community.
He said with Ireland out of the tournament, he's rooting for his temporary homeland.
"As an Irishman who came to Canada for work, this is now my second team, so I'm supporting them today," he told CBC News.
Isabella Bilewicz's family has been waiting a long time to watch Canada play in the World Cup. The sport has been in her family for generations, she said.
Her five-year-old son, Yakub, is training to play with the London TFC Academy.
"We're very excited, soccer's been with us for our entire lives," she said. "You know, even before he [Yakub] started walking, he was kicking a soccer ball so we knew we had to sign him up right away."
Bilewicz says despite Belgium taking this win, Canada will come back stronger in the next match. She hopes to one day see her son play for Team Canada.
Among other fans were brothers Simon and Elliott Greenwood who play for the London TFC and Whitecaps London. They hope to represent Canada in a future World Cup.
It's [soccer] very important to me, I play every day," said Simon. "The next match will be really tough like this one but I think they can win if they pull hard."
Wednesday's game was just the beginning from Team Canada. The men's team faces Croatia on Sunday.