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When Canada kicked off the 2022 World Cup, they did so with a sword to the ground.
Yes, this Canadian team will travel with the sword that coach John Herdman dreamed up as a means of embodying the team’s fighting spirit, and on the night before their heartbreaking loss against Belgium on Wednesday, they will, as they do before every game in the finals. they had, they did. in the World Cup qualifiers and pushed the sword into the center of the field where they were supposed to play.
Why do they do this?
The Sword is the most memorable of John Herdman’s unorthodox methods of team building and personal inspiration. He played with other medieval images, from shields to symbolize the need for protection with a purpose and helmets that can only be seen forward to symbolize commitment to the task at hand.
But it resonated because, as Herdman said after Canada qualified for the World Cup, it represents “the person we want to play with.”
During the final qualifying round of the CONCACAF World Cup, Canada’s ritual was as follows: the teams would gather in a circle the night before the game in the half of the stadium where they were to play. and after a short speech intended to incite the group, brings the sword into the arena. Herdman wanted the team to believe they would “own the floor,” as he said after qualifying, and for most of the qualifiers, Canada did just that.
Where is the sword from? What does it say?
Before the final round of selection, Toronto swordsmith Steve Karakostas received a vague email instructing him to make a sword “as a symbol of brotherhood in an important international quest.”
Karakostas was skeptical that the sword was actually for the Canadian men’s national team until a visit to their hotel room during qualifying convinced him and he got to work.
The sword is emblazoned with the words “Qatar 2022” and, more importantly, the Latin phrase “Nihil timendum est,” or “Fear nothing.”
It’s a phrase that describes an all-out approach, a team-heavy attack and a newfound bravado that has long been missing from the spirit of Canadian men’s soccer.
“That’s been our symbol this whole trip,” midfielder Jonathan Osorio said Athletic in the mixed zone after the loss of Belgium. “Of course we have to bring it here. It symbolizes the fighting (spirit) of our team. It is our weapon. It represents our dream.”
How did they pass the customs?! And who carries it on board?
It’s not clear how the team made it through customs, but they have successfully made it to other Central American countries through pick-up.
“It passed,” Osorio said with a smile.
When the sword isn’t being used in pre-game talks, it resides in the team hotel meeting room.
What happened in Costa Rica?
Canada has only lost two World Cup qualifying finals. The second came to Panama after Canada had already qualified. But the first came in Costa Rica. Canada had a chance to be selected, but as we found out the day after their 1-0 loss, Costa Rican customs refused to allow the sword into the country.
A Costa Rican news agency ran a story the next morning alerting the world to Herdman’s latest tactic, galvanizing the team’s morale at the time.
You could call Canada’s loss to Costa Rica a complete fluke because they didn’t have a sword with them, of course.
After the loss, Karakostas told the Toronto Star, “I’m not a superstitious person, but I might be after this.”
— Canadian Premier League (@CPLsoccer) March 25, 2022
How did they enter Qatar?
Getting the sword into the country was probably not a process that started overnight. We know that Herdman is meticulous in his planning and that he and the rest of the Canadian outfit will likely be planning some time after qualifying to get the sword through customs.
We probably haven’t seen the last of the sword in Qatar.
“It goes to every stadium to show that we’re going to own their field and we’re going to be the new Canada,” Herdman said in March.
(Photo: Getty Images)