The FIFA Women’s World Cup has reached the knockout stages and Canada is still in the hunt for the trophy, which has some sports fans in the city very excited.
Team Canada finished second in the group stages and will play a tough Swedish squad Monday afternoon.
While it is a huge tournament and sees Canada involved every year with Christine Sinclair, arguably the best player in the game’s history, wearing red and white, the hype isn’t the same as it is for the more well-known men’s event.
Ryan Elson is the assistant general manager at Donaleigh’s Irish Public House on Dunlop Street East and a huge soccer fan. He told BarrieToday he's watching every game he can and thinks there is nothing wrong with the level of play.
“We’ve been playing all the games, not just Canada’s games, but there has been no attendance for them and I’ve pretty much been the only one interested,” said Elson. “The games have actually been pretty good.”
Donaleigh’s was packed for games involving the men’s squads last year during the FIFA Men’s World Cup, and flags were flying after each game, but that buzz hasn’t yet spilled over into the women’s game.
Barrie Soccer Club technical director Mark Cristante told BarrieToday that, despite numbers being down for those watching the national level, he's proud of what his club is doing at the grassroots level, as four girls teams came away champions at the club’s Spiritfest tournament this month.
“For the first time in club history, we had eight teams reach the finals of a tournament, and with it being our home tournament, it made it even more special,” Cristante said.
“Four of those teams came away as champions and there were a few that made the semifinals as well," he added. "This speaks volumes to the development of our players and program. It's a proud moment for myself and the club.”
Cristante said he believes it's up to everyone to lift up the women’s game and show just as much support for it as they do for the men.
“I think the women have been doing well as they always do and expectations are always high based on their track record at previous championships,” he said. “I think it’s really important to encourage fans to watch and support the women, as I’ve noticed a decline in the number of girls signing up over past few years for some reason. So it’s important we really promote the female game.”
Canada plays Sweden on Monday, June 24 at 3 p.m.