From section 111, row 21, seat 3, I froze for a just a moment, before throwing my hands up and cheering Kadeisha Buchanan heading home a goal for Canada’s Women’s International Soccer team. My delay in jumping up with the other fans was a result of being overwhelmed.
On May 8, at Winnipeg’s Investor Group Field, Canada hosted USA in a soccer match. The match was touted as a friendly. Being that close to the action and seeing players, larger than life, challenge, tackle and shield the ball, it was not what I call friendly.
I purchased tickets to attend the event because of my involvement with youth soccer. As a volunteer girls minor league coach, I look for soccer experiences that I can capture and use to motivate players. What better than an international event with over 28,000 fans in attendance to capture some stories.
Outside the stadium radio stations, camera trucks, news crews and other event sponsors prepared for the game. One lone vendor pushed hot dogs into buns to feed those who were having a pre-game snack before entering the gaming arena.
Test your shot speed, by Winnipeg Youth soccer, gave would-be players a chance to record a radar gun reading of their kick. Two rows of plastic pylons, setup by Manitoba Bison group, provided a competitive obstacle course for two players to compete.
A Tilley hat covered senior, supported by a cane, avoided the stairs and took the ramp up to the entrance. I congratulated him on the accomplishment. He indicated it was just a pregame warm-up for celebrating Canada’s coming victory.
Watching the focus of the players and the speed at which they executed practice drills before the start of the game was impressive. No little league girls soccer here folks. One fan walked to the field railing with a sign asking a player to take him to his high school prom. I didn’t see any player take him up on his offer.
The players left the field after practice to return during official opening ceremonies. The teams came onto the field accompanied by younger local players. From the large screens on the field I could see a face I recognized. The 10-year-old girl singing Oh Canada was from the team I coach.
With gray clouds in the north and blue sky in the south, the game started. I suspect the players were warmer than me because I didn’t see them wearing gloves and a winter coat. I kept telling people I only wore it because it was red not because it was cold. The gentleman beside me was in shorts, t-shirt and a light jacket.
Intermission seized fans in a mass of lumbering movement to concessions. Capillaries of people crossed the main arteries of people parading around the stadium. Shuffling feet would break away from the flow seeking conversation, food, beverage or bathroom.
Sidney Leroux of the USA team tied the game late in the second half. An earlier replay on the giant screens of the Canadian keeper’s goal saving trap off a header ball, showed this game was not going to be uncontested.
I did, after my inundated frozen time, throw my hands up, rise to my feet with fists pumping to celebrate the first Canadian goal. I took more in from the game than I realized.