‘It’s going to be a lot of fun’: Edmonton’s mini soccer world cup tournament returns

The Mini World Cup opening ceremonies took place on Wednesday night, kicking off a two-week soccer tournament in Edmonton.

Teams entered the Edmonton Soccer Association South Center field with their flags and team colors. The Ukrainian teams received a standing ovation from the crowd as the national anthem of Ukraine played.

The Mini World Cup started in the 70s as a way to recreate the real football World Cup.

Teams are formed based on player heritage. This year, the Edmonton and District Soccer Association said it has almost as many teams as before the pandemic.

This is the first time the tournament has taken place since 2019.

“We weren’t sure this year what kind of response we were going to get from people, but we had 43 teams in four different competitions, so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” executive director Mike Thome said.

Teams have bragging rights for winning the two-week tournament for two years, Thome said, as the age groups alternate each year. This year’s tournament is the 35+ category for both men’s and women’s teams.

He said the bragging of tournament winners lasted well into the regular football season.

“They get together for this event, but then they go back to their teams, so there’s a little friendly rivalry going on and a lot of tweeting about which country is better,” laughed Thome. “It just lends itself to the landscape of football in this city.”

The Mini World Cup has matches every weeknight and weekend afternoon until April 7; there are no games on April 1.

“I think people are excited to come out and compete again, wave their flags and have a good time.”

A complete program is in line.

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