Make no mistake, Canadian soccer (or football as it’s known around the globe) is having a moment—a big one. Fresh off the Canadian Women’s National Team win at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the Canadian Men’s National Team qualifying for this year’s World Cup in Qatar, passion for the “world’s game” has never been higher, coast to coast.
To celebrate the success of both teams, and to learn more about their strengths as individuals, BMO Private Wealth hosted a conversation moderated by Sylvain Brisebois, Head, National Sales Strategy & Programs, BMO Private Wealth with Janine Beckie, Olympic gold medalist and forward for the Canadian Women’s National Team and Portland Thorns FC and Canada Men’s Captain, Atiba Hutchinson to talk soccer, the power of teamwork, and what the future has in store.
“Really exciting time to be part of soccer in Canada”
For both Hutchinson and Beckie, what really stands out in the wake of our two big national wins, is passion. Not only from the players, but from Canadian fans who are now beginning to better understand the nuances and excitement of the game of soccer.
When asked about his thoughts on qualifying for the 2022 Qatar World Cup, an achievement Canada last achieved over 36 years ago, Hutchinson explained,
"Obviously, qualifying was a great achievement for all of us. It was a long road for Canada, with a lot of moments that didn’t go our way. This time around, it was really special how we grew and learned, and we got better and better as a nation. And the support the Canadian people started giving us. It was a really tough journey, but we found a way to do it.”
“Support of Canadian soccer very strong”
Beckie also shared her take on the excitement being generated in Canada by the strength and success of our two national teams and the powerful levels of support felt from Canadians everywhere. Specifically, for her, the conversation turned to the women’s experience at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. While Tokyo was a bit out of the ordinary, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the feelings generated by the team’s Gold Medal win was anything but.
“It was a bit of a wild experience with COVID,” said Janine. “To do it in front of no fans was a bit sad. But I would just echo what Atiba said, in terms of really feeling the support of a nation and the support for Canadian soccer. It’s been strong for a very long time but as you alluded to earlier in the conversation, it’s a really exciting time to be part of soccer in Canada.”
Continuing, Beckie added, “Hopefully in Paris 2024 we can win gold again in front of a sold-out stadium.”
Success is built one game at a time
As the conversation moved from past to future success, Brisebois asked Hutchinson about his record as the now longest-serving player on the Canadian Men’s team—a 19-year run— and what is means for him.
“It means a lot,” Hutchinson said. “For me, I’ve spent a long time with the team. Coming into the team at age 20, not knowing exactly how my career would go. I basically took it one game a time. Every time I got that call-up, I was excited about it. I took a lot of pride in it. I really just enjoyed the whole ride. There were times when things didn’t go our way, and you kind of just keep working away at it. Then you know, 19 years later, I’m the one who holds the most games for team Canada. It’s exciting for me for sure, and I’m very grateful for it.”
The power of unity and community
Beckie and Hutchinson also discussed the relationship between Canada’s Men’s and Women’s teams. Beckie spoke to their strong supportive relationship, something that in her estimation, helps drive both teams to success.
“I think what’s so special about Canadian soccer, and something that a lot of people won’t know,” she explained, “is that the Men’s National Team and the Women’s National Team have a great relationship. What’s more, both are eager to see each other be successful. I know our team was absolutely buzzing to see the men qualify for the World Cup and can’t wait to see them play at the end of the year.”
Okay, so why soccer?
To close out the conversation, Brisebois asked Hutchinson and Beckie to share what made each of them choose soccer as their sport.
For Hutchinson, his love of the sport came from his father. “My father is from the Caribbean,” he explained. “It’s the biggest sport over there. He put it into me when I was 5 years old. I had love for the game ever since I started playing it. It’s been life changing for me.”
Beckie, on the other hand, explained how she went through a series of sports before settling on soccer, saying: “I played I think, every kind of sport you could imagine as a kid, but soccer was always the one I had the most love for in my heart and the one I wanted to be successful in. Like Atiba said, it’s definitely changed my life. I’m incredibly thankful to be part of a sport that is the world’s game.”
You can watch the full discussion here: https://www.odysseyproduction.ca/live/bmorovers/
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