By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
East Toronto residents gathered at the Kilt & Harp Pub on Danforth Avenue to watch Canada’s World Cup opener against Belgium on Wednesday, Nov. 23.
The bar was filled with enthusiastic supporters who were celebrating Canada’s first soccer match on the biggest stage in 36 years.
“It’s about time,” said Robert Bedard, a loyal Team Canada supporter.
Bedard said that even if Canada wasn’t in the competition, he would still be there watching the matches, however, it is a much more enjoyable experience to be able to participate as a fan this time around.
“It’s great that they’re in there,” said Bedard during the half-time break as Canada trailed by a single goal.
“Whether or not they come out on top, we’re watching a great performance by them and that’s all you want from your team.”
Although the team lost 1-0 following a missed penalty by Alphonso Davies, supporters remain enthusiastic about the future of Canadian soccer after witnessing a fierce display.
“I’d be overjoyed if we made it to the final 16, but the point is they’re playing their hearts out,” said Bedard.
When asked if he had any expectations for the team past the group stages, Bedard simply responded, “no”.
There might not be much expectations of the team amongst Canadian supporters but that won’t stop them from frequenting the pub on Danforth Avenue to cheer on their country. Pub owner Mervyn Wallace said that people tend to come to his establishment to watch games but over the next few weeks, Canadian soccer matches are “the best games for the bar”.
“It’s good for business,” said Wallace.
He told Beach Metro Community News that as the tournament pushes on into the knockout stages, he expects his bar to become even busier with passionate fans as their teams inch closer to glory.
The pub usually looks forward to major tournaments as they draw in larger crowds. Wallace joked that as a bar owner, he always wishes for NBA playoff games to go to game seven in order to maximize profits.
Although FIFA’s match format is much different than the NBA, Wallace said that he plans to show all the World Cup games and still expects an influx of supporters from nations such as England, Brazil and Wales even if Canada gets eliminated in the group stage.
Until then, he has at least two more highly profitable days scheduled as Canada plays Croatia on Sunday and then Morocco on Thursday Dec. 1.
He believes Canada will bring him business past the group stage as he expects victories in their next two games. Like other supporters who gathered to celebrate Canada’s return to the World Cup, Wallace saw a lot of potential in the team’s display against the number two ranked Belgium.
“They’ll get it right as they go along,” he said.
Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.