Members of Surrey’s BB5 United men’s soccer team hold jersey worn by Brandon Bassi, a teammate killed in a car crash in May 2019. (Photo: twitter.com/BB5UNITED)

Members of Surrey’s BB5 United men’s soccer team hold jersey worn by Brandon Bassi, a teammate killed in a car crash in May 2019. (Photo: twitter.com/BB5UNITED)

SOCCER

‘Great for the game here’: Surrey soccer community welcomes World Cup matches in Vancouver

Ted Hans coaches BB5 United men’s team, to defend national championship this fall

Big soccer games will fill Ted Hans’ calendar this fall, both at a national championship tournament for the men’s team he coaches and also as a fan watching World Cup matches in Qatar.

On Thursday afternoon (June 16), the Surrey-area soccer coach had something else to cheer about: news that Vancouver will host World Cup games at BC Place Stadium in 2026.

“It’s not every day that you get World Cup games played in your own backyard, so it’s very exciting,” Hans said moments after FIFA’s announcement.

“It’s great for the game here, no question.”

The 2026 tournament will mark a Canadian first as host of FIFA World Cup games. The tournament is watched by billions of people around the world.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to support the tourism sector, put the global spotlight on British Columbia and inspire the next generation of players,” the B.C. government said in a news release.

Whenever tickets go on sale, they won’t be cheap, but Hans said he plans to attend games at BC Place.

“This shows how much Canada has come along on the world stage in soccer, and in particular in Vancouver,” Hans said. “I think we did a good job with the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and now the soccer world will be here too. It’s going to be amazing, and people will see just how beautiful Vancouver is.”

A month ago, Hans coached the BB5 United men’s team to another Provincial A Cup championship, the Surrey-based club’s second in recent years. The B.C. title was earned on May 15 after a 3-1 win over FC Tigers Vancouver at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, on goals scored by Nic Morello, Caleb Clarke and Yassin Essa.

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With recent tournaments cancelled by COVID, the 2022 title is a “back to back” provincial win for the squad, which scored its first Challenge Trophy at the 2019 Toyota National Championships in St. John’s, when the team was known as Central City Breakers.

Months later, CCB was renamed BB5 United in honour of fallen teammate Brandon Bassi, who was killed in a car crash in Newton in May of 2019, just before the team’s run to a national championship that October.

“It was something that we had as a goal for a long time, to honour Brandon in this way, as much as we can,” Hans explained. “Having everyone know what BB5 stands for, it just cements his legacy, that his name will forever be on the provincial cup. And we won the league as well, so his name is there too, with VMSL being one of the best leagues in Canada. Having BB5 there is special.

“He’s gone but not forgotten,” Hans added, “and we’ve had his dad at every trophy presentation, and he’ll be flying with us to Toronto for the nationals as well. To win this (provincial cup) so close to home, in front family and friends, including Brandon’s, it was very special.”

This October, BB5 United will defend its national championship at a tournament played in Vaughan, Ont.

In November, Hans will fly to Qatar for his first in-person World Cup experience.

“I was lucky enough to get some tickets through FIFA, in a lottery,” Hans said. “I was able to get tickets to all three of Canada’s games, so I get to watch Morocco, Belgium and Croatia play against Canada. I’m going with my wife, and then quite a few friends from here were lucky to get some games as well.”

For the 2026 World Cup, FIFA has yet to confirm the number of matches to be played in Vancouver, but local officials are estimating five of them.

The estimated costs for planning, staging and hosting the FIFA World Cup 2026 in B.C. range from $240 million to $260 million.

Toronto was also announced as a host city for 2026, as was Seattle, but Edmonton was not successful in its bid. Sixty games are to be played in the U.S., including all from the quarterfinals on. Canada and Mexico are to host 10 games each. This will be the first World Cup with three co-hosts.

“Obviously I am excited,” said Spiro Pegios, an award-winning coach and senior VP with Surrey United Soccer Club, based in Cloverdale. “But I am especially more excited because Canada qualified for the 2022 World Cup, which gives us more credibility for 2026 other than qualifying, because we are hosting.

“I truly believe that the GVRD and province and surrounding regions will fully support this,” Pegios added. “Vancouver has always been a hotbed for the game of soccer and has a great track record of hosting international-level events. And finally, it will incite the continued passion for the game in our youth.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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