A group of Regina soccer fans made the journey to Qatar to cheer on Canada at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
With more than 250 million people playing in over 200 countries across the globe, soccer is regarded as the world’s most popular sport.
But for fans of Canadian soccer, they’re watching their Cinderella team lace up in Qatar, in what has been called a once in a lifetime opportunity on the biggest stage in football.
Regina soccer fans, Rob Notenboom and Jordan Kelemen have been fans of the game for years, even going as far as joining a travelling fan group called “The Voyageurs.”
“It was loud, it came through on the broadcast … everybody was passionate,” Notenboom said, about his experience in Qatar.
“The team referred to the atmosphere as a home game.”
For Kelemen, the atmosphere at the World Cup in Qatar has been remarkably welcoming.
“I don’t know it’s just something about supporting your country, especially at the World Cup,” he explained.
“Its just unbelievable because everybody wants to win but people still want Canada to win it seems in Qatar.”
Both Notenboom and Keleman said The Voyageurs have become a family and joining some of the members in Qatar has been surreal.
“It’s kind of like a family reunion,” Kelemen said.
“You could kind of feel that it kind was…we owned the place,” Notenboom added.
Canada has never scored a goal in the World Cup.
However, Canada’s current team, with the likes of Alphonso Davies and Jonathon David, have the chance of making history. Something fans have been waiting for decades to see.
“We have the players that can do it,” Keleman told CTV News. “I think the biggest thing is some of our biggest players will run back and play on defence, and a lot of big players in other countries, that’s not really their style.”
For Notenboom, any action from Canada will make dreams come true.
“First goal, first result, first win … maybe first time to get out of the group? If we get out of the group and finish top two of the group we’ll be in a dreamland,” he said.
As for fans back at home, The Voyageurs are happy to see the spread in Regina.
“We’ve been going to The Lobby on Broad Street in Regina for years, sometimes there’s five of us, sometimes 15,” Notenboom explained.
“But for the Belgium game, it was packed.”
With Team Canada’s performance against Belgium, Kelemen and Notenboom say that soccer fans around the world have a new found respect for Canada.
They expect to see even more fans showing off red and white on Sunday for Canada’s second match of the tournament against Croatia.