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By Ottawa Sports Pages, for Louis-Riel Rebelles
Next to Qatar, Louis-Riel high school may be the place to go to watch Canada’s long-awaited opening match at the FIFA World Cup on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.
They’re bringing in the big screen inside North America’s largest indoor sports dome to cheer on Team Canada and their own Jonathan David, who has an excellent chance to score our country’s first-ever goal at the FIFA Men’s World Cup.
“Everyone keeps asking me these kinds of questions: ‘Is he gonna score? Is Canada gonna win?’, and of course I don’t have the answers,” smiles the superstar’s former coach Joé Fournier, who then notes that David being in the starting 11 is pretty much guaranteed at least. “But it’s fantastic to have the teachers, staff, students and everyone getting into it so much. You can really feel the spirit for soccer.”
The members of the Louis-Riel Soccer Academy will be excused from class a little early to watch the big game against world #2 Belgium in the Dome, where media and dignitaries will also be joining in to capture the moment.
“The World Cup is so exciting because even people who don’t watch soccer want to watch the World Cup – it’s this huge tournament that’s only once every four years,” notes Grade 12 student Marius Doucet, who’s especially thrilled to know he’ll have his “soccer family” at his side for the games. “We’re all going to get together to watch, and that’s what I love so much about it. It really unites everyone.”
To have a Louis-Riel grad leading the Canadian charge only adds to the buzz.
“(David) put Louis-Riel’s name on the map,” Doucet highlights. “He’s an excellent player, just unbelievable. It’s going to be so much fun to watch him in the World Cup, and the other Canadians.”
Read More: Jonathan David reaching for FIFA World Cup/global soccer stardom, 4 years removed from Louis-Riel
Canada’s last appearance at the Men’s World Cup of course came in 1986. Fournier notes that he was his students’ age at the time. Diego Maradona was his hero growing up, but now there’s a Jonathan David to look up to.
“The kids think about that a lot: Jonathan trained on the same turf as us, he went through those same doors as us, sat at the same school desks,” indicates Louis-Riel’s soccer program director of almost two decades. “It gives them a lot of hope.”
Inspiration is certainly not difficult to find at Louis-Riel. The French public school was also home to Vanessa Gilles, who’s expected to make her FIFA Women’s World Cup debut next year, after capturing Olympic gold in summer 2021.
There’s always been a strong soccer tradition at Louis-Riel, but its Soccer Academy has exploded like a David turn in recent years. Close to 200 students from Grade 7 through 12 are now part of the specialized program that includes high-performance training and coaching during students’ school day.
The Rebelles school teams won both the junior and senior boys’ high school city titles this fall and now they get to watch David perform on the biggest stage in sport.
“We just can’t wait,” signals Fournier. “Last week with the two boys’ championships, and now with the World Cup coming up, we’re so excited. It’s definitely a dream-come-true kind of moment.”
Learn more about the Louis-Riel Soccer Academy at LouisRielSoccer.com.