‘Very big village’ will be cheering on B.C.’s Joel Waterman at World Cup

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British Columbia’s Joel Waterman is among 26 players on the roster of the Canadian national team at the 2022 World Cup. 

While other players on Canada’s World Cup roster have ties to the province, Waterman is the only national team player who was born and grew up playing in British Columbia.

Raised in Aldergrove, a community in the Township of Langley, about 60 kilometres southeast of Vancouver, Waterman grew up playing for soccer teams across the Lower Mainland, including Langley United and Surrey United SC.

The 26-year-old, who currently plays as a defender for CF Montreal of the MLS, got the call up to the World Cup squad on Remembrance Day, only 12 days before the team’s first group stage match. 

WATCH | B.C. parents thrilled to see their son play in World Cup

B.C. parents thrilled to see their son play in World Cup

Joel Waterman of Surrey, B.C. will be representing Team Canada at the FIFA men’s World Cup in Qatar. His parents Trent and Vicki Waterman share their excitement after getting the news he’d made the final cut.

 

His parents say it was midnight when their son called to share the news. 

“We didn’t get a lot of sleep that night because we were so excited … His words, ‘We’re going to the World Cup,’ you just never think you’re going to hear those words,” said mother Vicki Waterman.

“It was very emotional … As a parent you always strive and tell your kids that they can live their dreams,” said his father, Trent.

Born to play 

Waterman’s first coaches were his parents, who taught him about the sport when he was five years old. 

“Our first game he went out and he could just take the ball from anybody at any time. Basically he was so coachable, so whatever we told him we needed him to do, he could do,” said Vicki.

When CF Montreal added Joel Waterman to its roster, he became the first Canadian Premier League player to be sold to another league on a permanent transfer. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Waterman began his soccer journey playing with Aldergrove Youth SC. At age 12, he joined Langley United before moving on to Surrey United SC. 

“[Joel] was goal-focused. From a young age he said that he wanted to do this and he stuck to his guns,” said one of Waterman’s former coaches, Mark Parker, technical director for Langley United.

Waterman later enrolled at Langley’s Trinity Western University, where he earned an undergraduate degree and played five-seasons with the TWU Spartans. 

In 2018, he was drafted by Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League and played in 21 matches for the Calgary-based club.

Waterman then made history becoming the first CPL player to be sold to another league on a permanent transfer, joining CF Montreal, where he has played ever since. 

Fellow CF Montreal defenders Alistair Johnston and Kamal Miller also earned spots on the Canadian squad.

Community cheers from the Lower Mainland

As Waterman prepares to play in Qatar’s desert climate, friends and family will be waking up early to cheer him on from the Lower Mainland.

“He has a very big village here that follows him,” said Trent. “He’s very popular right now in the soccer community.”

“We’ve heard from a lot of people that we haven’t connected with in a while, and from a lot of friends and family who are learning about soccer who didn’t really know about the sport,” Vicki said.

“So we’re growing it right from the core here.”

The recent success of the Canadian men’s team has come at the same time as interest in soccer is growing in B.C. 

Parker says registrations for Langley United are at an all-time high, with 3,177 youth players. 

“It’s abuzz right now in Langley in terms of soccer,” said Parker. “Our registrations are the highest they’ve ever been … It’s just boomed.”

Jason Elligott, executive director of B.C. Soccer, says nearly 117,000 players are registered for clubs across the province, marking a five-year high.

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