More games outside Toronto? Players believe it's crucial for Canadian national team's future
EDMONTON, Alberta – It was a rare return home for two Edmonton natives on Tuesday night, and they’re hoping it wasn’t for the last time.
Both Randy Edwini-Bonsu and Tosaint Ricketts saw the field in Canada’s 1-0 friendly loss to Costa Rica. In fact, the former was replaced by the latter in the second half and, in Ricketts’ case, playing at home came after arriving from Norway the night before.
“Last time we played here was so long ago,” said Edwini-Bonsu (above), referring to a World Cup qualifer here in 2008. “I thought Edmonton deserved it and thankfully, I’m from here, so it worked out perfect.”
For the past two years, the Canadian men’s national team has largely been based out of Toronto, with the rare exception coming in 2010 when they played in a friendly against Honduras in Montreal.
With Canada’s massive size, the western part of the country has often been neglected as host venues for men’s national team games due to the long distances many European-based players have to cover and the number of time zones they need to cross.
But with the team in transition and in the midst of a rebuild, Ricketts believes now may be the time to rebuild that fan base across the country.
“It’s great for the program and most importantly for the kids and the future,” the striker said. “They need to be in touch with the team and have a personal connection and it’s difficult if you don’t get matches in every city. I think it’s good and it’s headed in the right direction.”
For his part, Edwini-Bonsu said the next time Canada have a camp within their own border, he hopes it can take place in a smaller venue away from the larger centers.
Having experienced what it’s like to get that rare opportunity to play for his country at home, the Ghana-born, Edmonton-raised forward is hopeful other regions will get that same experience in the future.
“Whenever you’re called up to play for your nation, you put everything aside and whatever jetlag and anything aside,” he said. “You just come out and play. You just have to tough it out whatever situation is and just play.”