Prince Albert soccer aficionados are joining the rest of their Canadian brethren in celebrating the country's successful bid to co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Canada, Mexico and the U.S. won the right to jointly stage the 48-nation tournament, beating a bid from Morocco Wednesday.
“My phone has been blowing up here from my friends and family. It’s extremely exciting news,” Dwayne Gareau, vice principal at Ecole St Mary High School, told paNOW.
Gareau, who has an extensive background both coaching and playing soccer in P.A., at University, and in the professional ranks, said the news hadn’t really sunk in yet that Canada will be on the sport's largest stage.
“There’ll be a lot of people who are excited by this, but don’t really understand just how big this is for Canada,” he said. Gareau said hosting the Women’s World Cup in 2015 helped boost the game in Canada but he expects the 2026 event will take things to another level.
“With the build-up you’re going to see the amount of athletes start to get excited and get involved and it’s definitely going to grow the sport here,” he said.
Carlos Correa, a soccer coach and settlement worker at Carlton Comprehensive High School, called the news “fantastic” and perhaps the start of an eight-year dream for young people who want to represent Canada in 2026.
“We saw when Canada hosted the under-20 FIFA World Cup in 2008 that more kids started to play soccer,” Correa said. “The story of young Canadian player Alphonso Davies [a refugee from Ghana], touches very close to some of our young players who’ve come to Prince Albert as refugees.”
FIFA, the world governing body, has yet to confirm if the three host nations will automatically qualify for the 2026 Finals. Canada has reached the finals only once, back in 1986, when the event was hosted by Mexico.
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