Normally, I would use this space for something more than a pep talk, but it’s been a tough day for Canadian soccer fans. After about 6-weeks of uncertainty, it was finally revealed that the hugely anticipated Canada v USA game in Hamilton would no longer be played in front of 24,000 fans, as had been expected.
To say that fans were disappointed would be an understatement. This was supposed to be the latest Big Breakthrough Moment for a team that has had increasingly more and more of them over the last year.
The Canadian men were a hot ticket for the first time ever and the idea of playing in front of 24,000 partisans (minus the 1,000 or so tickets reserved for the American Outlaws) was exciting, unbelievable even.
Alas, the virus that has taken so much already, decided that it was not done with us yet. Due to increased pressure on the health care system in Ontario, the provincial government has put some circuit breakers in place to try and slow the spread. Even though they announced yesterday that they were going to start to work to eliminate those measures, they weren’t going to do that until Jan 31.
The game is on Jan 30.
Close, but not close enough. The current restrictions in place only allow for 50% capacity. As much as fans may have wanted for the government to make an exception, it wasn’t realistic. In fact, it seems unlikely that the government ever considered it. Why would they?
Aside: Some of you reading this may believe that the government is overreacting and that there should not be any restrictions in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I disagree with that position. Let’s not bother going into it here. It doesn’t matter. The restrictions are there, so we must deal with them.
That’s the bottom line.
So, here we are. There won’t be 24,000 people in the stands and that sucks. But, here’s the thing. There will be 12,000. Details on how to be part of that 12,000 will be available soon, but based on the reaction to today’s announcement, you can be assured that they will sell those tickets and the game will take place in front of a smaller, but no-less engaged crowd.
Here comes the pep talk: Speaking as someone that went to his first national team game in 1997, and that has been to about 50 national team games of the men, women and youth national teams since, I can tell you with absolute certainty that there have been many times over those years where we would have killed to have 12,000 fans in the stands cheering for Canada.
So, let’s not catastrophize this. Rather, let’s embrace the special nature of it. It’s just another bit of adversity that Canadian fans must overcome to watch this team try and erase what has been a generation of disappointment.
Sure, it’s disappointing that some of us won’t get a chance to go, but that’s all the more reason for those that do go to bring it. And they will. I have no doubt about it. In fact, the special circumstances around the game might make it even better than it would have been before.
You see, those that do get in will understand how lucky they are and they will channel that into providing as much noise and support as the 24,000 would have anyway.
Edmonton had Iceteca; Hamilton will have this (name TBD). Both special nights, under unique conditions, supporting an exciting team.
And this is a special team. This is just going to be one more part of the story we tell when remember how Les Rouges finally got over the line. I truly believe that.
See you in Hamilton -- unless I can’t get a ticket, in which case it’s fine. I know those who do will represent me well!
ALLEZ LES ROUGES!
(Next blog will be more journalistic, I promise!)
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