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CSN Article: Why do I bother supporting the men's national team?


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Well, the headline was obviously meant to be provocative. But to anyone in El Hombre's boat, it's worth noting that the question posed in the headline isn't rhetorical; I actually do provide an answer.

Sorry, I should've posted something like that. I originally thought it was going to go another way and was pleasantly surprised by the end of the article. Summed up a lot of things for me.

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I've been trying to put in words what I've felt over the past couple days but thankfully squizz writes far better than I do. (e: hell, I may as well try and this seems like the place to do it).

I didn't grow up playing, watching, or even liking soccer. Until I was 17, my only knowledge of soccer was the odd FIFA game and a friend from school who followed Newcastle and constantly wore an Alan Shearer jersey.

I couldn't even tell you how I started to follow the national team; I assume it was the side-effects of my high school showing World Cup games in the cafeteria in 2006 or maybe it was TFC coming here in 2007. Either way, after watching the entirety of the Gold Cup in '07 (and, if I am completely honest, having a minimal understanding of the offsides rule and just assuming our commentators were inherently biased at the end of the US game), I learned that the U-20 World Cup was here and figured it was as good a time as any to start following the team. The three players I knew were David Edgar (Newcastle connection), Asmir Begovic (ad campaign) and of course the great Andrea Lombardo (ugh).

Now, I knew absolutely nothing about the state of Canadian soccer or how the stadium atmosphere was for the team. I had never heard the word 'Voyageur' in my life, and I wouldn't until I stumbled upon this site and immediately joined. I bought tickets on e-Bay with my cousin in a corner section (127 IIRC) for the Chile match, and I remember taking video of the Chile fans outside, thinking it was sort of cool that a couple of them 'made the trip up' for the tournament. Needless to say, 20 minutes later in 127 it was my cousin, myself and a Canadian couple beside us alongside 400 Chileans. You all know how it ended.

As a sports fan, I wondered why the hell I would deal with that again. As a Canadian, I was offended that on Canada Day, in our national stadium, we could be outnumbered so badly. It happened again in Montreal a year later. I can still remember Lars staring into the crowd at the end of the match with beer flying everywhere, Hondurans getting thrown over railings etc. He just stood there with a look I can't even describe, some mixture of sadness, disappointment, shock and disgust. But he just stood there, it had to be for at least ten seconds, maybe half a minute. I've never felt worse for any athlete (and it doesn't surprise me that he was one of the few to put in a full 90 minute effort on Tuesday). But at that point, at what seems like the time when the complete opposite should happen, I truly became a supporter of this team.

There's no way to perfectly describe what supporting Canadian soccer is like. There's the general public apathy, which leads to pretty much all of my friends laughing at me for caring so much. There's the lack of accessibility, which leads to us all watching choppy Macedonian webstreams at 6 AM or following some random twitter account in Cyprus that we've never heard of. There's the fact that the team, frankly, isn't really that good, which leads to us suffering through times like this far too often.

But honestly, and as squizz said, there's nothing that defines supporting them more than the relationships that are built from it. I sat in the Duke on Tuesday and thought about what I was upset about when the goals kept going in. I realized that I was disappointed that Canada lost and weren't going to advance, but what upset me was that since we weren't going on, there wouldn't be five more home matches and a couple road trips to make next year. I don't know the right way to put this (I've been on this paragraph for quite awhile), but even moreso than the '10 cycle, where I was just getting into it, I'll miss everything about it.

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