Saskatchewan soccer fans are gearing up to cheer on Canada at the FIFA World Cup.
The World Cup officially launched Sunday, Nov. 20 and will run until Dec. 18.
For the first time since the 1986 tournament in Mexico, the Canadian men’s team travelled to compete in the Cup and dedicated fans are determined to join them. The team is competing in the tournament as the underdog, sitting in 45th place in FIFA rankings.
Long-time Canadian soccer fan Matthew Gourlie is planning his 10,000-kilometer trip across the world to witness Canada’s games first-hand. He is excited to travel to this year’s host country of Qatar — the first country in the Middle East to host the Cup.
A Regina resident and fan club Voyageurs member, Gourlie said this will be his first World Cup, but it’s been a dream since he was young.
“I mean it’s such a unique trip and it’s something, (someone) of my age and remembers ’86, it’s a long-time coming,” said Gourlie.
He explained that the current group at the World Cup is an excellent representation of what it means to be a Canadian soccer player.
“I know that this group will play for each other and play really hard for themselves and the country with a lot of pride,” said Gourlie, “I know they are going to make us proud no matter how they do on the pitch, but I think they are going to surprise some people and we hope there is enough there to get them through to the next round.”
Gourlie will be travelling to Qatar with a group of friends that he has been going to games with for years.
“It’s just really special to be on this journey with all of the people who you meet who are kind of the diehards, who have been around for 20-plus years.”
He said he is looking forward to this experience more than the 2026 World Cup, in which Canada may be granted automatic play as a co-host.
“To see them earn it the way they did with such a likeable group, it’s just so nice to support such a great group of guys who play with so much pride and passion,” said Gourlie. “It’s a dream to support this team and to go over there and get a chance to watch this tournament and see these guys in person.”
Rahim Mohamed, Saskatchewan Soccer Association’s executive director, hopes that Canada’s participation in the 2022 FIFA World Cup will inspire a love of soccer in young Saskatchewan kids.
“Being back on the world stage is going to be a shot of adrenaline into the arm for any aspiring kid anywhere in the country,” said Mohamed. “We finally have a chance for our young male and female athletes to really attach themselves to the identities and the role models of who is in front of them.”
Mohamed said that soccer in Saskatchewan is at a higher level of popularity amongst kids than they have seen it before.
“I can definitely see the uptick with the gold medal winning team with the women recently and now with the men going into the World Cup. It’s only going to continue to grow because we are going to be hosting on home soil for the first time in our country’s history (2026) a World Cup.”
Canada will play its opening group game against Belgium on Nov. 23 followed by matches againt Croatia on Nov. 27 and Morocco on Dec. 1.
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