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Lots of opportunities to watch the World Cup in Burlington

Canada returns to the 32-team tournament for the first time since 1986

Belgium may be favoured by bookies for the win but Canadian fans will be gathering from coast to coast to will their team to victory in the country's first World Cup appearance since 1986.

A number of viewing parties will be taking place around Burlington Canadian Soccer's men's national team plays in Qatar's Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium this afternoon.

Burlington Centre has set up a special lounge for shoppers who want to keep an eye on the scoreboard.

General manager Heidi McCaw said the World Cup has wide appeal in the community and offering a place to enjoy the games together over the month-long tournament is important.

"Burlington Centre wanted to provide a space for the community to come together and enjoy the World Cup and cheer on Team Canada," she said. "With 32 countries competing in the World Cup, Burlington Centre and TSN worked to further unite the well-known multicultural spirit of our community. This FIFA event brings (in) people passionate about the sport and shoppers looking to take a break from the busy holiday season."

Organized youth football clubs are also getting in on the fun. A representative from Burlington Soccer said while today's match is not well timed for the youngsters — although some may be watching it at school -— they plan to get young players together for Sunday's match against Croatia.

Director of Marketing Samantha Cawkwell said the club's executive director, Amal Chauhan, is in Doha for the games.

"Everyone is incredibly excited," she said. "We even have our Executive Director who is at the games, supporting some of the kids he once coached (who) are now representing Canada on the global stage. This is certainly what we have always wanted — a men’s and women’s team, representing this amazing country on the global soccer stage."

The club is running various contests over the the tournament with Bayhawks swag as prizes, and in multi-cultural Burlington, supporters of other nations will be cheering alongside Team Canada fans.

"With this being Canada’s first time in the games since 1986, a lot of our members will be switching out their Blue & Yellow Bayhawks kit for Canada Red & White." Cawkwell said. "We do have some of our coaches and staff supporting other teams in the tournament. A healthy rivalry is always good for the game."

Many Burlington sports bars and restaurants also expect to host soccer fans this afternoon and beyond.

Gator Ted's is the official viewing party venue for the Voyageurs, Canadian soccer's official fan club. They are offering specials and prizes as well as a chance to win a Muskoka chair.

AB Sports Bar on Appleby Line is also laying on specials for the soccer fans.

"We are excited to open our doors to the FIFA World Cup games, along with many of our awesome weekly specials," owner David Copperthwaite told BurlingtonToday. "We've been highlighting the Canadian games as this a very exciting time for Canada. This is the first time in 36 years since we made it. We have a large party booked to come in on Sunday (Nov 27) to watch the Croatia game. That day also corresponds with our first annual Christmas Market that will be taking place on one side of the restaurant."

Canada last played in the international tournament in Mexico in 1986 but failed to get a single goal. Fans have much higher hopes this year, as the team is coming off a strong winning streak at CONCACAF to qualify.

Today's match against Belgium kicks off at 2 p.m. Go Team Canada!


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Tania Theriault

About the Author: Tania Theriault

Tania is a print and broadcast journalist with over 15 years experience who has recently returned to Canada and is keen to learn all there is to know about Burlington and its welcoming people
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