Canada will learn from this

Even though Canada bowed out of the Under-20 World Cup early, the event was deemed a huge success....

Even though Canada bowed out of the Under-20 World Cup early, the event was deemed a huge success. (Sun File/Darryl Dyck)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

So ends Canada's most significant soccer lesson.

How much it learns from the lesson will go a long way in determining if Canada will ever move out of the world's soccer wilderness to any perceivable degree or whether this country's soccer fans will continue to be frustrated at the lack of progress.

The FIFA under-20 World Cup is one of the world's most prestigious soccer events. It brings with it the good, the bad and the ugly.

But just like any other major soccer event, the country which stages it becomes the centre of the soccer world. Usually, the exposure the tournament brings instantly benefits the development of soccer in that country, especially if it's a third-world soccer country.

As the detritus of the tournament is cleared up, one thing remains without debate, Canada is fully capable of staging a successful major soccer event. There is a market for quality soccer in this country. People will pay for it and support it. Not many lessons to learn there.

But not much will come of that unless Canada improves the quality of its game, unless this country is able to avoid being embarrassed on the pitch. Hard-core soccer fans will continue to support the sport because they love it. Growing the sport though, attracting the casual fans, takes success.

The great hope is that Canada has learned its lesson from its stomach-churning performance in this tournament where it lost all three games without scoring a goal.

The most common excuse used by those who have put the development and selection systems in place is that we simply aren't good enough and it's difficult to compete because Canada doesn't have a soccer culture and isn't populous enough.

What a crock!

Those are excuses given by the very people who have put the development and selection systems in place.

We do have a soccer culture in this country. It's one that has been controlled by the same people with the same background for years, the people who use the same standards and have the same mindset.

It's time to think outside the box and certainly outside the country.

There was a wonderful story told at the under-20 tournament. Fewer than two years ago, one of the Argentine players was a virtual unknown, playing for his school side. Somehow, he was on the field Sunday, playing in the World Cup final.

If a country such as Argentina, with thousands of soccer players, can find such a player, why can't Canada?

The selection process is too limiting, too predetermined.

Canada can learn from this tournament by looking on the field.

Every team in this tournament had several young stars, players who could beat another player one-on-one, who could generate something out of nothing.

In Canada, we seem grimly determined to stifle individuality at worse and at the least seem unable to promote. There was not one Canadian player who appeared skilled enough to make anyone tremble.

It's inconceivable that with all the players who are playing the game, we don't have two or three somewhere.

We should take a page from hockey. There was a shift in focus in the sport. There was a return to the basics, allowing younger players to play the game, to have fun, to use their skills.

Virtually every soccer developing country has improved after staging a major event. South Korea, Japan, the United States, the African nations.

These countries have taken note of what's good and learned from it. Most of these nations have actually performed better than expected when the tournament has been in their own country.

Canada didn't and that's a shame.

What would be a disaster is if it we didn't learn from it.


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