Croatia fans in Okanagan stoked for Sunday’s World Cup final
UPDATE: Okanagan Croatians plan on meeting at Rusty’s Sports Bar in Kelowna AT 7:45 a.m. Sunday to view the World Cup final match.
Kata Sarac can’t wait for the weekend. Neither can Patrick Roy.
There’ll be no mistaking who Sarac and Roy will be cheering for when Croatia plays France in Sunday’s World Cup final. Sarac, 29, has Canadian and Croatian citizenship. Roy, 72, is married to a Croatian.
The two Kelowna residents are also members of the Okanagan Croatian Club.
Patrick and Dragica RoyOn Wednesday, Croatia fans around the world celebrated their team’s semifinal victory over England.
“I was at work and my phone was live-streaming the game,” said Sarac, who has lived in Kelowna since 2003. “I was getting work done, so I had it playing in the background. Anything we can do to watch it, right? It doesn’t matter where, we’ll find a way.”
Come Sunday, Croatia will be facing an even tougher test against France. Entering the tournament, Croatia was ranked 20th in the world; France was ranked seventh. England was ranked 12th.
The only question for Sarac and Roy, and other Croatian fans, is where will they watch the big game? As of Thursday, the Okanagan Croatian Club had no plans to rent a hall or gather en masse at someone’s home for a massive, and patriotic, gathering.
“I’m trying to see if someone will be hosting now that we’re into the final two (teams),” said Sarac.
She added laughingly that finding a place at the last second might be problematic, “because nobody thought we were going to get this far. It’s kind of a shock for everybody.”
Contacted on Thursday, the French Cultural Centre said it had no plans to host a viewing party for Sunday’s game.
On a side note, the Okanagan Croatian Club, a non-profit organization, is benefitting from Croatia’s winning run at the World Cup with increased exposure.
“It certainly has,” said Roy, club president for the past four years. “It’s gotten exciting over the last little while. We have an active membership and we cover the whole Okanagan.”
The added exposure is great, said Sarac, stating “We want to get the younger community involved with Croatian culture.”