Francophone community rallies behind French 'cousins' for World Cup final
Hundreds from New Brunswick's francophone community cheered in a Dieppe arena Sunday as France secured its second World Cup, defeating Croatia 4–2.
More than 300 people watched the game played in Russia from the city's Arthur-J-LeBlanc Arena.
Caroline Christie came from Saint John to watch the game with friends, including Elodie Rouchouse, who emigrated from France two years ago.
"I'm a francophile, so I love the French culture and I'm very happy to be with our friends from France and to be here to celebrate with them," Christie said as the game was getting underway.
Rouchouse said she was happy to be among the French community to watch the World Cup final.
Held every four years, the World Cup features 32 teams with games spread over about a month until the finale.
Francine Kamba travelled from Bathurst with her children and grandchildren to support France.
"We come from everywhere just to get together and be behind France and give them power and good waves," she said, with her sister from Moncton.
The viewing party, organized by the City of Dieppe and Soccer Dieppe, filled half of the hockey arena floor.
Cheering on French 'cousins'
Dieppe mayor Yvon Lapierre said it was an event to bring the community together.
"I think most of the people that are here, whether they're from Belgium, the Ivory Coast, they're of French descent," Lapierre said. "We have that in common."
Taha Maarous, president of Soccer Dieppe, called it a big day for soccer enthusiasts, particularly for the francophone community.
"Dieppe, we all know it's Acadians, and the French, they're cousins," Maarous said. "It has a special side that brings all people together to cheer on France."
Gabrielle Maillet, community officer with the City of Dieppe, said the community has a number of francophone immigrants. Part of the way the city hopes to integrate them is to invite them to community events, like Sunday's viewing party.
"The population that was here, we weren't surprised it was a mosaic of people. We're happy about that," Maillet said.
Tarik Nait Ajjou has lived in Dieppe since he was young. He grew up watching soccer with his family.
"I'm pretty sad because I wanted Croatia to win," he said. "But it was a good game. France felt the same two years ago in the Euro and now they win it. They deserve it. They played well."
Maarous was pleased with the turnout of the viewing party.
"We have now kids dreaming because they saw their soccer idols playing," Maarous said.