Last night I attended the Pan-American Games Women’s Soccer match between our Canadian Women’s National Team, and Brazil, at a packed Tim Horton’s Stadium in Hamilton, Ontario. The match was exciting, and although Canada lost 2-0, there were some positives to take away from the contest for the home team. After having worked directly with this Canadian team and coaching staff in the week prior to their opening match against Ecuador, as well as in the match itself, I was very keen on watching them play live. One thing struck me as the second half was winding down, however, and ironically it had nothing to do with the way either team was playing. What stood out to me last night was the number of Canadian fans leaving the game early – many of them around the 75th minute!
I live and work in Vaughan, which at best is an hour drive to and from Hamilton, so I can appreciate that many of these people were leaving the match early simply to get a head start on the traffic leaving the city and to try to get to bed at a reasonable time. But in doing so they missed out on a unique opportunity as Canadian soccer fans. Although Canada lost the match to Brazil (its second straight 2-0 defeat in this tournament) their strong showing and 5-2 victory over Ecuador in their opening match was enough to actually put the team through to the semi-finals, which will take place this Wednesday evening against Colombia.
As any soccer fan knows, one of the best experiences of attending a live match in which your team is playing is at the end of a successful game (even if it is a loss), when the players come around to the section of the stadium where you are seated and you get to cheer them on and applaud their performance. For the players, too, this moment can be very rewarding, especially in the case of our Canadian team at this year’s tournament, who despite being a collection of mostly U23 and U23 players, have held their own competing against 3 full senior World Cup women’s teams. Although a good majority of the fans in attendance did stay to send off the Canadian team, the visual of so many fans heading for the exits did not look good from where I was sitting, and I can imagine it did not look very good from down on the pitch either.
Canada has again successfully fielded a Women’s National Team, which is only one win in two games away from winning a medal in a major international tournament. I think last night was a missed opportunity for many Canadian soccer fans, who could have shown more support for the accomplishments of this team. Hopefully this Wednesday, in the semi-final against Colombia, all of our Canadian fans will stay to cheer on the team until the final whistle blows, and maybe even longer than that!
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