Thousands of soccer fans are set to once again pour into Richmond this weekend when the 42nd annual Nations Cup takes place at fields all across the city.
It all kicks off Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Hugh Boyd soccer fields with the opening games in the men’s open, up to the men’s over-38s categories.
More than 1,000 of the best amateur soccer players from across B.C. descend into Richmond, along with thousands more fans to watch the games at Hugh Boyd, Minoru and South Arm.
As well as men’s and women’s open age groups, there are teams playing in men’s over-30, over-38, over-45 and over-52.
Croatia silenced the fervent India following in the men’s open final last year, with a 2-0 win.
And the pair, said Nations Cup president Jeff Wilson, is likely to feature again at the business end of the tournament come finals day on Sunday.
“Croatia once again looks strong, India is a perennial favourite, But Canada, I’m told, could be strong, along with Italy,” Wilson told the Richmond News on Monday.
The women’s open category, added Wilson, will enjoy an eighth team taking part this year with the arrival of Canada 2.
And for the second year running, the boys and girls final of the Youth Nations Cup will take place on the Sunday at Hugh Boyd, with Canada playing Ireland in the girls final at 1:30 p.m. and Canada v Croatia in the boys at 4 p.m.
To see the full draw for the Nations Cup, click here.
Carlsberg step in as tournament sponsor
Off the field and Wilson is excited about the arrival this year of global beer giant Carlsberg as a sponsor.
Wilson said the tournament teaming up with Carslberg is likely a biproduct of the World Cup coming to Canada in 2026, as “we’re starting to see more corporate sponsors down at the grass roots level,” he added.
“As well as supplying the beer, they’re going to have a big presence all over the tournament.”
On the subject of refreshments, the Friday night beer garden will be next to the West Richmond community centre until 11 p.m.
The weekend beer garden will be in its usual spot behind Boyd Oval field and there will be at least four food trucks on offer.
Wilson added that there will be two after-parties this year, Saturday at the Buck and Ear in Steveston and Sunday at the Canadian Brewhouse on Garden City Road and Alderbridge Way.