"It comes from a community feeling, from how it brings you closer to your friends and family, and all the good memories associated with watching your team win." Photo credit: Aadil Naik

Jonathan David raced past the half-way line and charged at the goal, eventually chipping El Salvador goalkeeper Kevin Carabantes to score the final goal of the game, securing an important win that put Canada one step away from the World Cup in Qatar.

Les Rouges, as they are nicknamed, now need one win from their remaining three games to secure a seat at the first ever winter World Cup. If they are to do so, it will surely be a monumental moment in the history of Canadian sports.

If they are to qualify, this would be only the second time the Canadian national men’s team would have done so, having last made it all the way back in 1986, a whopping near 40 years between them.

As a result of that, now more than ever is the best time for Canada to start embracing soccer as the gargantuan sport that it is, fully support their national team and push them to go as far as possible in the tournament.

Soccer is the biggest sport in the world and by a large margin too. According to the World Atlas website, it is estimated to have around four billion fans worldwide, which is double of Canada’s current favourite sport, hockey, with over 80 per cent of Canadians watching hockey every week according to a survey done by CityNews.

The biggest sporting event in North America, the Super Bowl, pales in comparison to the World Cup final when it comes to viewers. The World Cup final in 2018 had a record-breaking three and a half billion viewers tune in, which dwarfs the highest viewership ever recorded for the Super Bowl, which was nearly 115 million viewers in 2015. In 2022, 112.3 million viewers turned out for the Superbowl.

If Canada were to make it to the 2022 World Cup, they would be playing the sport on the grandest stage of them all, being watched by almost every nation in the world and as such need to be able to hold their own against the best of the best.

This requires the right support, not just by the Canadian Soccer Association, but by Canadian citizens as well. From the former, a lot of investment is required to push the team to newer highs, giving the coaching staff and players the resources to compete with the top dogs of the sport.

The current crop of players is the best Canada has had in years and they need the right support in order to reach their full potential. Players like Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David only come around once a generation and the Canadian national team needs to take advantage of them while they still can.

Davies recently won the 2021 Canada Soccer Player of the Year, having recently broken the all-time record for assists in the Men’s National team with 15 career assists along with Canada‘s record for eight career assists in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Davis, along with David, play with two of the biggest clubs in Europe, the home continent of soccer. Davies is playing with the most successful club in German football, Bayern Munich, while David plays for French giant Lille. Both are superstars who will play a big role in the sport for years to come, and with the right support, more Canadians can follow suit.

From the fans, what is needed is to embrace the sport and show soccer the same love they show hockey. The passion for the game, the culture, it all needs to be advanced to make Canada the soccer juggernaut it has the potential to be.

The debates on which sport is best always go into the details of the sport, such as whether it is a fast paced one versus a slow paced one, but in reality, the love of sport is much deeper than that.

It comes from a community feeling, from how it brings you closer to your friends and family, and all the good memories associated with watching your team win. At the World Cup in Qatar, with the right promotion, the Canadian National Team can start a new era by providing Canadians at home with good memories of the team’s effort.

Kids at home will go from not knowing a single player to idolizing some of them. The seeds of this cultural shift has already begun as the men’s national team picked up victory after victory.

If Canada goes on to play on the biggest stage of the biggest sport in the world, it can light a spark across the nation that will see the sport reach its highest highs in the country. It is now or never for Canadians, and it is time to embrace soccer fully.