Cold and snow not enough to deter Canada's national soccer team or its fans

·4 min read
Aditi Jones, 14, was wrapped in her warmest clothes and Canadian pride as she watched Canada defeat Mexico in a World Cup qualifying match at Commonwealth Stadium on Tuesday.  (Submitted by Michelle Peters-Jones - image credit)
Aditi Jones, 14, was wrapped in her warmest clothes and Canadian pride as she watched Canada defeat Mexico in a World Cup qualifying match at Commonwealth Stadium on Tuesday. (Submitted by Michelle Peters-Jones - image credit)

Despite the snow and frigid temperatures in Edmonton Tuesday, Commonwealth Stadium was packed with fans for the FIFA World Cup qualifying match between the Canadian Men's National Soccer Team and Mexico.

Perhaps the weather gave the Canadians the advantage, or it was the emergence of several Canadian soccer superstars. Whatever the case, it resulted in a stunning 2-1 victory for the home team and another step toward next year's World Cup in Qatar.

"I'll never forget this," said head coach John Herdman in an interview posted online by Canada Soccer. "The snow, the crowd, the Mexicans, just brilliant."

Herdman did not hesitate when asked if the weather gave Canada a leg up.

"Absolutely. No one wants to play in that, especially the Mexicans," he said. "First time I think we've beaten them in decades; so just proud, just a proud night for the lads."

The snow even became part of the celebration when Canadian defender Sam Adekugbe dove into a bank at the side of the pitch after a goal.

While the weather may have prevented some out of town fans from getting to the match, 44,212 made it into the stands, including Edmontonian Michelle Peters-Jones and her 14-year-old daughter Aditi Jones.

"Oh my goodness, it was so absolutely insane, the atmosphere was electric," she said. "The game itself was so amazing."

Peters-Jones describes it as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"Especially against a really good team like Mexico which is rated ninth in the FIFA list," she said. "Winning against them, I can't even describe the emotions."

Peters-Jones grew up in India and has traditionally cheered for England in World Cup play but her allegiances are shifting.

Submitted by Michelle Peters-Jones
Submitted by Michelle Peters-Jones

"I have to add Canada to the list because I've been living in Canada for the last 11 years," she said. "I've been really interested in the way the Canadian men's and women's teams have performed on the international stage."

Peters-Jones has no doubt the weather worked to Canada's advantage.

"You've got to be prepared that Edmonton in November is going to have some snow storms; it's going to have some serious winter issues," she said. "I think it really worked in our favour because our boys are definitely more used to the cold than Mexico was."

Peters-Jones admits it was a bit of a challenge for her as well, given she grew up in a tropical climate.

"I think I had every single item in my wardrobe on me," she said. "I'm not really used to the cold even though I say I'm an Edmontonian now."

'We were jumping up and down'

The excitement and the enthusiasm in the crowd also helped.

"We were all cheering really heavily, we were jumping up and down, we were banging on drums, we were waving flags," Peters-Jones said. "It kept us warm."

She believes Canada's success in soccer, and Edmonton's changing demographics are helping to draw more interest.

"Edmonton has a lot of immigrant families and a lot of us bring the sport with us because soccer is a game that's pretty universal," she said. "We don't need a lot of equipment for it, just a ball and a pitch."

Luca Mosele, whose family owns the Eurosport Soccer Stores in Edmonton, agrees interest in the sport is growing.

"People were always coming by here looking for Canadian gear towards the matches," he said.

"It gives the kids something to look up to now that the national team program is top quality. It excites kids, maybe something to strive for in the future, or even just something to excite them to play locally."

Coach Herdman thanked the fans, the city and the country for the support.

"The whole time we've been here they've made it our fortress," he said. "We've had the Oilers helping us, we've had messages from Gretzky, we've had the PM visiting us."

"It's just been memories to cherish. As sort of an honorary Canadian now, these are some of the best moments of my life."

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