Lee Kormish is ready for an adventure of a lifetime.
Not only is the Saskatchewan superfan finally able to watch Canada compete in the World Cup, he’s also chasing his own Guinness World Record.
"It's not easy and it's work, but I freaking love it," Kormish, 44, said from the airport in Doha, Qatar, where he was waiting to pick up a crew of Canadian fans.
As the Canadian men’s soccer team marks its first appearance on the world stage since 1986, Kormish is attempting to break the record for the most attended matches at a single FIFA World Cup.
The title is currently held by South African fan Thulani Ngcobo, who went to 31 games in 2010. Kormish, if all things go according to plan, is set to attend 41 matches.
"The logistics are really crazy to try to break this record,” Kormish said.
Kormish has been planning for the record-breaking attempt for more than a year from his home in Saskatoon. He’s even been in contact with Ngcobo, who gave him support and advice.
Kormish will need time to get to each game spread across eight stadiums. He also needs two witnesses at every game to sign that he was in his seat for the entirety of game play, which means no bathroom breaks while players are on the pitch.
The hardest part was actually getting tickets, Kormish said. But he’s had practice.
Kormish has been to four previous World Cups, as well as the UEFA European Championships and the Arab Cup in Qatar last year.
Soccer fandom has been pulsing through his veins since he dropped his baseball glove to kick a ball as a teen, he said. He’s watched the Canadian team struggle time after time, but always held onto hope.
"I have been waiting for this my whole life and I have been so passionate," Kormish said. "We've had so many dark times."
Canada was a win away from qualifying in 1994 before decades of downward spirals. Canada didn't even make it into the final round for five World Cup cycles.
Kormish said he showed up to previous World Cups with a Canadian flag and other fans from around the world told him: "Canada, you guys play hockey right?"
But that’s all changed, Kormish said, especially since John Herdman took on coaching duties for the Canadian men's team.
"This guy is not taking anything lightly," Kormish said. "Canada came to play."
Kormish was able to watch Canada win 2-1 over Japan in an international friendly match on Thursday in Dubai. There were already a lot of excited Canadians in the stands, and Kormish said his emotions took over.
“Words can’t explain,” he said. “The shivers down the spine, just the shivers take over the entire body.”
Doha has been transformed into a soccer fan’s dream, with banners, posters, soccer balls and light projections of the tournament’s biggest players everywhere in the capital, Kormish said. Fans from around the world have begun trickling in and the excitement is palpable, he added.
While Kormish plans to attend a slew of games, he said the ones that will mean the most are when Canada is playing. The team faces Belgium on Wednesday.
Those games are his “heart and soul,” Kormish said.
"How cool is that? That Canada is here at the time a Canadian is going to break the Guinness record."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2022.
Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press