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Game on! Cache Creek resident soaks up World Cup experience in Qatar

It’s been a long road to this year’s World Cup, but David Dubois is there to cheer Canada on

Greetings from Doha! This is my first time attending a World Cup, and it is an unbelievable experience. I have been following Canadian soccer for the past number of years. I was lucky enough to attend games at the U20 Womens’ World Cup a few years ago. Then, when Vancouver hosted the Womens’ World Cup, I was able to go to a number of games, including to watch Canada in the quarter-finals with more than 50,000 in attendance.

While Canada has always been strong on the women’s side, we have struggled on the men’s side. After a number of brutal qualifying sessions for previous World Cups, the men’s side has really started to gel and have belief. After going through a number of qualifying sessions, Canada emerged on top of CONCACAF [the Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football] after defeating Mexico at the Iceteca stadium in Edmonton (not be confused with the famous Azteca stadium in Mexico). We also tied our American rivals in the US, and beat them in Hamilton, ON.

My dream of attending the World Cup began on a cold January evening; as most good ideas do, after a couple of beers. I decided to put my name in for a draw for World Cup tickets. The ticketing system involved applying for tickets; then, over the course of several months, the lucky winners were given the privilege of buying tickets.

My name was pulled in the first draw. At the time, Canada had not qualified, but it looked promising. Eventually it all came together and I was able to travel to Qatar.

In part, World Cup attendees were left to their own devices to arrange their travel and accommodations. For this World Cup I had to buy my tickets for the three Canada matches plus the round of 16, assuming Canada advances. Then I had to book accommodation, but all accommodations were being managed by a central agency.

I ended up staying in the cheapest place: a dormitory-type residence consisting of approximately 30,000 units on the far outskirts of Doha, the capital city of Qatar. Construction started two years ago; when I reserved my room it was not even built yet.

Once I had my tickets and accommodations, I was able to apply for my Hayya card. Everything we do in-country is based on the Hayya card. It is your permit to enter the country, ride the metro, sign in to your room, and get into games.

Once everything was in place, my journey started with a short flight from Kamloops to Vancouver, where I spent the night. Up bright and early ithe next day, it was 4.5 hours on Air Canada to Toronto; then, after a two-hour delay, it was 12.5 hours to Doha. I arrived in the evening, and after some false starts I was able to get on the shuttle bus direct to my residence. After getting checked in I met my roommate (for the second time ever) who I will be sharing the room with for the next 21 days.

There are two mosques in the complex, and the morning prayers aligned with when my jet-lagged body decided to wake up. I spent the morning exploring the complex, which consists of 26 clusters with a number buildings. Each cluster has its own central reception and small shops, such as a café, store, laundry, pharmacy, etc.

My new roommate and I headed to central Doha to explore the various venues and perhaps try to get additional tickets. Doha is a beautiful modern city, and Qatar has spent significant amounts of money preparing for the world, but with some growing pains.

Being in my complex is a special experience. There are thousands — if not tens of thousands — of international fans wearing team jersey, flags etc. It truly provides a sense of the importance of the event outside Canada.

Talking to people, everyone is interested to hear about Canada, but none are thinking we have a hope. Our first game is on Wednesday [Nov. 23], when we shock the Belgians. Aaaallez, allez, allez, le Rouge!

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