Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at email@example.com
Canada's soccer program needs a jolt of national pride
With the Canada's Mens National Soccer team set to take on Honduras in a crucial World Cup qualifier at BMO field on Tuesday night, the game is frankly nothing more than an after thought to the majority of Canadians. You will hear various reasons as to why that might be but in the end, they are nothing but excuses.
Edmonton - June 11, 2012 - With the Canada's Mens National Soccer team set to take on Honduras in a crucial World Cup qualifier at BMO field on Tuesday night, the game is frankly nothing more than an after thought to the majority of Canadians. You will hear various reasons as to why that might be. Some will tell you it's because soccer "is boring", while others will argue that "it's a European sport". Both curious answers when you consider that the average soccer match seems to have as many goals as most NHL playoff games and for a country that doesn't consider this "their game", why are there more kids and adults registered in soccer than any other sport in Canada? Sounds like nothing but excuses to me.
While many are frustrated with the lack of support and general indifference that the vast majority of Canadians have towards the National Soccer program, much of the blame lands directly at the feet of the Canadian Soccer Association and their inability to promote the program across the country but they are not alone in a lack of forward thinking when it comes to showcasing the beautiful game in our great country.
It seems as though the only time you hear anything about our National Team, is when they are about to play a big match or because of some behind the scenes non-sense that makes the program look foolish. Does anyone honestly believe this is the best way to go about promoting the game? Unless you follow Canadian Soccer with some regularity, did you have any idea that they were even playing World Cup qualifiers last week in Cuba and Tuesday night in Toronto?
To make matters worse, Rogers Sportsnet is airing the game across the country and can not be bothered to put it on their main station...really? That's right, it will be aired on Sportsnet One because god forbid the Toronto Blue Jays get bumped for one night to the secondary channel. Game sixty-one of the Jays one hundred and sixty-two game schedule simply has to be on the national network. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big baseball fan but come on. We are in the middle of Euro 2012, the second biggest tournament next to the World Cup, and instead of embracing it and using it as a springboard to help promote our National side, they shy away from it. Why would you want to give fans that are in full blown soccer mode, something to watch after the Euro games? That would make far too much sense.
It is almost as if everyone expects people to just simply tune in or show up because it involves a National team. While they will undoubtedly get some interest in viewership and tickets sales with the "just because" attitude, it is no way to promote a product that so few know anything about. If they want to generate a buzz around the club and program, then have them play in meaningful games across the country. Instead of playing meaningless exhibition matches in various cities, why not use the World Cup qualifiers as an opportunity to showcase the team across the country and actually promote it?
Here's an easy one for you, in a place as large as Commonwealth Stadium, why not include a ticket with every youth players registration to a World Cup qualifier? It would not only create a buzz around the team but they would get kids across the country to take an interest in the program. How about everyone worry a little less about the almighty dollar and actually focus on getting people into seats and have them get a look at what Canadian soccer has to offer. Give the public a chance to make a connection with the players and teams and watch the interest grow. Not exactly earth shattering stuff but something that seems to be lost on both the CSA and media outlets across the country.
With the Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps all currently part of the MLS and FC Edmonton in the NASL with a team in Ottawa to be added in 2014, Canadian soccer has never been more vibrant across the country. With that being the case, it does seem rather peculiar that the national side continues to lack support, despite improving the quality of player on the roster. Obviously, something needs to change and let us hope that they can straighten it out quickly and give this team the support they deserve and need, in hopes of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
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