They might not think it just yet, but 22 lucky Burnaby Girls Soccer Club players are in for the game of a lifetime.
Eight-year-olds Jaiden Fraser and Stephi Schweitzer will have the privilege of leading two national team captains onto the field at B.C. Place for an important qualifying match at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup on June 23.
While the two teams are yet to be determined, 20 other clubmates will also get to go hand-in-hand with the other national team players onto the field to take part in the pre-game celebrations and the singing of the national anthems.
The other lucky under-10 Burnaby club players taking part in the walk-on at B.C. Place include: Maya Duvall, Charlotte Ron, Lara Boljuncic, Daleena Dade, Hanna Kaustinen, Shivali Naithani, Gabriela Lazaruk, Ellie Carr, Azlyn McDonald, Kiera Robertson, Madeline DeMelo, Vanessa Woo, Emily Campbell, Teya Johnson, Klara Tomek, Aikum Gill, Ana Goluza, Ava Bertoia, Isabella Panesar and Sofia Dehlic.
The Burnaby soccer club was selected as one of eight B.C. youth soccer clubs to participate in the FIFA youth program in conjunction with the Women’s World Cup, which began on June 6 with Canada edging Mainland China 1-0 in the opening match in Edmonton.
Soccer clubs from West Vancouver, the North Shore and Port Moody, Vancouver Athletic Football Club, Central City FC, Pinnacles FC from Penticton and members of the Lower Island Soccer Association will also take part as either player escorts, ball crews or flag bearers during the World Cup games held at B.C. Place.
Vancouver, one of the six official host cities for the 2015 women’s world soccer championships, showcased the first two days of Group C matches between Japan, Cameroon, Switzerland and Ecuador at the downtown dome.
B.C. Place also hosted a final Group D matchup between Nigeria and the United States later today (Tuesday).
The Vancouver venue will also be the place to be to catch Canada, the winner of Group A following a 1-0-2 record in the opening round, in the first of two Round of 16 matches hosted at B.C. Place.
The second game will be contested by the Group C winner, likely defending champion Japan, and the third-place team from one of the other three remaining groups A, B, or F, with the Burnaby Girls as escorts on June 23.
Both Jaiden, a Grade 3 student from Tweedsmuir Elementary in New Westminster and Stephi, who attends Grade 2 at Armstrong Elementary in Burnaby, don’t believe they will be fazed one bit by all the buildup to the beautiful game’s crowning celebration.
“Nope,” said Jaiden emphatically, “because I’ve been in front of lots of people for a long time – dancing, singing and during the May Day.”
Stephi even plans to give her escort a pre-game pep talk – “Score goals, have fun and try your best.”
Stephi feels excited about the possibility of Canada winning the Cup on home turf, as well as being on television.
In fact, her Burnaby Girls team is named Team Canada after this country’s women’s team won the Olympic bronze medal in London, England in 2012.
Jaiden doesn’t think she will be passing on any advice to her national team captain.
“I’m usually shy,” she said.
When prodded further on what she thinks might take place in her moment at B.C. Place, Jaiden is more certain.
“People walking on the field with the soccer players and everyone is screaming, that’s it,” she said.