Thursday, June 08, 2006

Canada Not Doing Enough For Sports

The World Cup of football (soccer) is one true global sporting event. Forget Olympics or the Superbowl, the World Cup beats all comers combined. Over 200 countries participate, with 32 in the finals, watched by over 3 billion people (that's 1 in every 2 persons on earth), this is the world fiesta of sports. Amongst all the flags that will be flying high in diverse Toronto over the next month, one flag will be sorely missed. Canada's.

It seems unbelievable that a poor country with a population of a million people (Trinidad) can qualify from CONCACAF for the World Cup, but Canada cannot. Soccer is also not Trinidad's main sport, cricket being the primary while basketball comes second. Yet they made it. Is it just the culture?

I feel Canadian kids do not place too much value in any sports except hockey. There is nothing wrong with loving hockey too much, but our government should encourage other sports as well. They do nothing of that sort.

We do not even have a dedicated Ministry of Sports (unlike many other Commonwealth nations) - it's grouped under the Ministry of Heritage. Canada, with a rich source of immigrants, should excel in three world sports - football, cricket and tennis. Yet, we suck.

Sports requires enormous dedication. Athletes have to train hard, dedicate time, and their parents their money. Once they reach high school, most kids abandon sports. If the sport is not big and does not have a winning team, there are no sponsors, and therefore the team members have to take other jobs to sustain themselves, thus they cannot train or practice full time, and therefore they cannot win - ergo the cycle continues.

Although this news may surprise ice hockey fans, cricket has a long history in Canada. The Toronto Cricket Club was established in 1827 and the Canadian Cricket Association was formed in 1892. Cricket was the national game of Canada in the 1900s. The Canadian team has qualified for the last World Cup as well as the next. Yet most of the team are amateurs and weekend players with regular week jobs.

For sports such as soccer and cricket, where Canada has potential, the Government of Canada and the governing bodies of the sports must sit down and work out a funding formula for the team so that they can practice full time, play full time, and do not have to worry about paying out of their own pockets for equipment, travel and so on. This can continue until the sports get popular and obtains enough sponsors to sustain themselves. For all the money spent on the sponsorship fiasco in Quebec to promote Canada, nothing raises your patriotic fervour than watching your national team on the pitch.



Muad'Dib said...

One reason we do not excel, and I say this from 29 years experience playing and coaching in Ontario, is the lack of competative soccer in teh province for children.

Parents take over local soccer associations and make turn it into a happy friendly, "no-one-loses" game where playing is the most important aspect yet winning is secondary or terciary.

THis drives quite a few of teh most excellent prospects out of the sport out of boredom.

Just my two cents.

Loony in LotusLand said...

Crescent unlike US schools Canadian universities have never offered full ride sports scholarships to student athletes. Australia introduced a number of sports universities called centers of excellence when they were competing to hold the Olympics a number of years ago and they have churned out a huge number of world class athletes. All of my three kids have number of friends attending American schools on full or partial ride scholarships in soccer, hockey, baseball, golf, fastball, lacrosse, rugby, basketball and field hockey. Most of my kids' friends gravitated to sports that had the best chance of them getting a free education.

A pissed-off former cricket player said...

From personal experience, I know cricket in Quebec to be corrupt, racist, and without any desire to develop. Unless a plague wipes out those who run it, cricket here will die , or forever be trapped in dwindling pockets of ethnic communities.

The fields are never cut, so no youth can ever compete. Every match is blighted by fighting and cheating. (I've never seen so many chuckers in my life.) Funds are siphoned off, and kit for kids is retained by the adults who are meant to hand it out.

The facilities are, at best, dangerous. The entire ethos is selfish and backward. And every team is a closed community shop. You just have to see that there is not a single white person playing to know that it is racist, despite large populations of English, Australians, South Africans, Kiwis, Scots, Welsh, and Irish in Montreal. For that alone cricket will never develop here. A great shame.