Now that global soccer supremacy has been determined, it’s time for B.C.’s own version of the World Cup to be played out this weekend at Hugh Boyd Park.
The 39th annual Nations Cup features the unique format of teams coming together based on players’ ethnic background or countries of origin.
This year’s event will see 64 “countries” doing battle over three days in six different divisions. It has earned the reputation as one of the top amateur soccer tournaments in Western Canada — not only for the quality of play but the atmosphere too, complete with food trucks and the always energized beer garden located at the north end of the Boyd Oval where Sunday’s Open Division championship game will be played at 6 p.m.
Fourteen other countries will be trying to slow down Italy and India’s dominance at the Open level in recent years.
The Italians will come to Richmond as two-time defending champion and are led by 2017-18 Golden Boot winner Carlo Basso who enjoyed an All-American career at Simon Fraser University.
Each of Italy’s wins came at the expense of India that has evolved into a juggernaut program with teams contending annually in all divisions and easily attracting the biggest supporters’ section. India’s top men’s team will be anxious to get back into the Open Division’s winner’s circle and is expected to have reigning tournament MVP Chetan Jhooty in the line-up.
Iran and Croatia have never played for the Open championship but both are more than capable of making a breakthrough after narrow one goal losses in last year’s semi-finals. There will be the usual perennial contenders too including five-time winner Ireland and Germany who haven’t hoisted the championship trophy since 2012.
The eight team women’s division has featured plenty of parity since being launched back in 2005 with four different winners since 2014, led by defending champion Ireland.
The tournament kicks off Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Hugh Boyd, where the beer garden will be open and culminates Sunday with the finals for all age groups from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Group A: Germany, Italy, Ireland, Fiji. Group B: Iran, Japan, Africa, Saudi Arabia. Group C: Croatia, England, India, China. Group D: Canada, Serbia, Portugal, Scotland.
Group A:Croatia, India, China, England. Group B: Canada, Serbia, Portugal, Scotland.
Over 30 Division
Group A:Scotland, Canada, India, Italy. Group B: Portugal, Ireland, Africa, USA. Group C: Germany, China, England, Caribbean.
Over 38 Division
Group A:India, Fiji, Germany, Serbia. Group B: Africa, Romania, Scotland, Ireland. Group C: China, England, Canada, Italy.
Group A:Scotland, Canada, Germany, India. Group B: Fiji, Ireland, England, China.
Group A: Ireland, China, First Nations, Canada. Group B: India Serbia, Scotland, England.