If there was ever an indicator of the global fabric and culture that exists in Barrhaven, the 2022 FIFA World Cup has been exactly that.
Canada made its first appearance in the World Cup since 1986, and only its second appearance ever. Canada has still not won a World Cup game after losing all three of its games this year, but they did at least score a pair of goals after being shut out in all of their games in 1986. The Canadian team also brought a lot of attention and excitement to the World Cup, and to soccer.
“It has been exciting and it has brought a lot of people out to our restaurant, especially people who have never been here or who have not been here for a long time,” said Russ Arthurs, owner of Boston Pizza in Barrhaven.
Boston Pizza and other local establishments such as the Heart and Crown, Broadway, and the Royal Oak have had soccer fans frequenting their restaurants since the tournament began. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has extended the hours of liquor sales in restaurants showing World Cup games, with service beginning at 7 a.m. There is an eight-hour time zone difference between Barrhaven and World Cup host country Qatar. The games beginning at 7:45 a.m. local time are being played at 3:45 p.m. Qatar time. The other start times for games have been 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time.
“Obviously, we were packed for Canada’s three games,” said Arthurs. “But we have had people coming in for all of the games. The one thing that is amazing is that there have been supporters for all 32 countries in the World Cup from right here in Barrhaven. It doesn’t matter who is playing. We have had groups of Barrhaven residents who are Brazilian, or originally from Poland, Croatia, Spain, Japan, Germany, France, Cameroon – literally everywhere. We were really busy for the England vs. Wales game. We always get a good crowd for the England games. And they are all local. The World Cup has shown us exactly the kind of cultural mosaic that we have right here in Barrhaven.”
Arthurs said that the World Cup has brought a lot of people back out to experience the social part of being a fan and supporting their country.
“People love going to sports events, and going to a place like Boston Pizza or one of the other sports bars is that they get a stadium experience,” he said. “Obviously it’s on a much smaller scale than the real thing, but they get to come out and watch the game with the volume up, and they cheer, and they chant, and they sing songs from their respective countries. It’s a really great atmosphere.”
Many of the people coming out are not necessarily sports fans. They are just coming out to cheer on the country of their roots and to feel like a part of something exciting.
Arthurs said that some of the casual fans are turning into soccer fans since getting a taste of the World Cup. Barrhaven is becoming more and more of a soccer hotbed in the province. Ottawa South United is one of the premier youth soccer programs in the province, and many of Atletico Ottawa’s growing number of supporters are from Barrhaven.
“People are watching and following soccer more and more,” he said. “There are a lot of soccer fans here, but there are a lot of people just getting into it who maybe started following it last year when Canada was going through the qualifying process. They are the casual fans who are going to pay attention to the Women’s World Cup next year, as well as the Euros and the some of the other qualifying tournaments. There will be a lot of soccer for them to watch in the next couple of years.”
Big event at St. Joseph
While Boston Pizza had a big crowd for the last Canada game, it was nothing compared to the massive viewing party for the game at St. Joseph High School.
A crowd of more than 600 students and teachers were in the gymnasium at St. Joseph to watch the Canada-Morocco game last Thursday.
“It inspires the youth and it’s just a great experience and it’s amazing to see them at this stage,” said Grade 11 student Mario Frangione in a CTV Ottawa interview. “I think now that they’re in it anything is possible.”
Despite the loss, Canada’s goal late in the first half and a great scoring opportunity in the second half brought students to their feet with loud cheers.
The World Cup continues through Dec. 18.