A Canadian Soccer Fan in Limbo

I just returned to Lesotho after a week and a half of travelling around South Africa to attend some World Cup matches. Overall, it was an amazing experience, but one thing that stood out for me was that I was a Canadian, at a World Cup, without an affiliation to any of the competing nations. This situation was highlighted every time I spoke with someone because the inevitable question was ‘who do you support?’

So my initial question to the Terry readers is, who do you support at the World Cup?

I think that many Canadians would identify themselves as English, French, Italian, Greek, etc and therefore support those nations in the World Cup. My Grandfather was Scottish, but that doesn’t help me very much in picking a team.

For the last couple of World Cups I have been supporting the United States. Generally, I tend not to support the U.S. in any event and instead actively cheer against them – I think this might be the case for most Canadian and probably most of the world. However, I feel they represent North American soccer (I am excluding Mexico from this statement – not intending to offend) and as a North American soccer player, and fan, I am cheering for them.

While I travelled around South Africa I would encounter people from African countries who were actively supporting all of the African nations. Now that Ghana is the only African team remaining I believe that the entire continent will be supporting them – this is a huge generalization, but go with me here.

I have a feeling that it’s not the same in North America. Do people not identify themselves as North Americans? Do we lack North American pride?

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Shawn graduated from UBC a number of years ago when he completed a Bachelor of Human Kinetics, followed by a Bachelor of Education. Not really interested in toiling away in a particular school district in B.C., he decided to go abroad and ended up teaching P.E. in China. His last year coincided with the Beijing Olympics and seemed like a fitting way to conclude his time in Asia. Through work and travel experiences he took an interest in international issues and development and completed a Certificate in International Development through UBC Continuing Studies. Shawn returned to Canada and worked for a year as a teacher-on-call before deciding it was time to explore his interest in international development a bit more. He is now working in Lesotho (a small country inside of South Africa) on an HIV/AIDS project run by the Lesotho Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (LENEPWHA). The project has a sport-for-development component that is using soccer to reach out to, and provide services for, orphaned and vulnerable children. At the same time Shawn had also applied to start graduate studies at UBC and will officially start his MA this year. His posts will reflect his personal and work experiences in Lesotho, and the concept of sport as a tool in development.