Not only has the team got the country rooting them on, they are paving the way for the next generation of soccer players and providing today’s youth with role models to look up to.
“For young players who walk around with Alphonso Davies jerseys on their back, who say ‘I can do it,’ and play soccer. I coach in the excel program and these players want to get to the next level. There is a real belief now for them to follow in these Canadian soccer players’ footsteps,” said soccer coach and Saskatchewan Soccer Association Technical Operations Coordinator Kelly Rawlings.
The World Cup is tough, with the world’s best, and even though Canada lost their first game, goal differential and wins will play an important role in the team advancing to the knockout round.
As is the case at every World Cup, there are always dark horse teams to surprise many.
“You have teams that have the quality and talent to be there. It’s no longer going to be European centred or dominated. I hope it happens again this year. We see it again and my heart is saying Canada makes it to the final,” said Saskatchewan Soccer Association Executive Director Rahim Mohamed.
“Canada has the skill and an excellent coach in Jon Herdman who has his team ready to run through walls for each other. They will be a tough opponent.”
Diehard soccer fanatics packed Sports on Tap to watch the game and a moment of history for some as the last time the team played in the World Cup in 1986. This was the first time they have witnesses Canada at a World Cup.
It’s going to be good for business – the Canada game at the bar was right full.
“Soccer fans are providing excellent business. We have had them in here for qualifiers they are having a good time, and that was a little taste. Them letting us know they are going to now bring their friends and soccer growing in Saskatoon, it’s going to be crazy for the rest of the World Cup,” said Sports on Tap supervisor Taylor O’Neill.
“It’s exciting to see the fans come out and show their support.”
Mohamed says the game of soccer is strong in Saskatchewan, and the World Cup entry will only add to it.
“I expect to see an uptick in players coming into it, especially at the grassroots level. You have players like Davies who is from Edmonton, they are a driving force in kids deciding to pick soccer over other sports and excel in it.”
Canada’s record sits at 0-0-1. They face Croatia on Sunday and Morocco next Thursday.