The opening ceremonies of the Mini World Cup were held Wednesday night, kicking off a two week soccer tournament in Edmonton.
Teams walked onto the pitch at the Edmonton Soccer Association South Centre with their flags and team colours. The Ukrainian teams received a standing ovation from the crowd as the national anthem of Ukraine played.
The Mini World Cup started in the 70s as a way to recreate the real soccer World Cup.
Teams are put together based on the heritage of the players, this year the Edmonton and District Soccer Association said they almost have as many teams as they did before the pandemic.
This is the first time the tournament has been held since 2019.
“We weren’t sure this year what kind of response we were going to get from people but we got 43 teams in four different competitions so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said executive director Mike Thome.
Teams get bragging rights from winning the two week tournament for two years, said Thome because age groups alternate each year. This year’s tournament is the 35+ category for the men’s and women’s teams.
He said the bragging from the tournament winners lasts well into the regular season of soccer.
“They come together for this event, but then they go back to their teams so there’s a little friendly rivalry that goes on and a lot of chirping about which is the better country,” laughed Thome. “It just lends to the soccer landscape in this city.”
The Mini World Cup has games every weekday night and weekend afternoon until April 7; there are no games on April 1.
“I think people are excited to get out and compete again and wave their flags and have a good time.”
A full schedule is online.
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