“Is Canada going to qualify for the World Cup this year?”
This is a question most soccer fans in Canada would have a laugh at, whenever any of their friends would be bold enough to ask. Canada, one of the bigger nations in the world, would regularly succumb to countries one tenth of their size, and with nowhere near the same resources at their disposal. It almost seemed like Canada Soccer had dug itself in such a deep hole it would never make it out.
Then all of a sudden, Canada announces it will be a host nation for the 2026 World Cup and everything changed. Semi-professional leagues were launched around the country, like the Canadian Premier League, and Canada’s first professional league followed a few years later. Suddenly players I grew up playing soccer with were earning a living playing their sport across the country. Was it really that a “wave of talent” had stormed through the country, or was it simply that locals finally had the platform they needed to display their ability? Either way, Canada Soccer did all the right things, and our national team went from being ranked 137th in the world two years ago to 40th today. The World Cup dream is very much alive and seems probable at this point. Canada is now a nation that can finally feel proud of what it’s accomplished in the most popular sport in the world. I salute all of the players who came through the semi-professional leagues, professional leagues, and university leagues, who helped push Canadians to be better. Without the players, this would not be possible, and I am extremely proud today of the career I had, and more importantly, I am proud to be a Canadian soccer fan.
See you in Qatar,