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World Cup: The "football" fans of Kamloops

Rich Burnett and Matt Rolan were at the Shark Club Thursday afternoon to cheer on their country's team.
June 22, 2014 - 9:28 AM

KAMLOOPS — Matt Rolan doesn’t look out of place at the bar at the Shark Club early on a Thursday afternoon. To him, it’s everyone else who looks out of place.

He was drawn to the largest screen in Kamloops to watch England play in the world’s most-watched sporting event—the World Cup. And he and his friend are the only ones here among the liquid-lunch fans and the stand-by beer fans specifically to watch it.

“It’s just completely different,” said Rolan.

No flags, no cheering, no jeering and probably a lot less beer. On the floor and in the cups. Sure some of the other patrons watch with polite interest, but back home it’s “a little more intense,” Rolan says. He and friend and fellow Englishman Rich Burnett cringed their way through an English loss to Uruguay—which bounced England from the tournament.

He has no answer about why Canada, and Kamloops specifically, remains one of few regions of the world with little interest in the Beautiful Game but gives the Shark Club crowd a little pat on the head for trying.

“Everyone’s got an opinion on it whether they know football or not,” says Rolan, who just moved to Kamloops from Nottingham.

It’s during these international events we see just how multicultural Kamloops isn’t. Nationalist excitement is so subdued you might think it was hidden without the occasional clue.

Steve Lidguard is a chef at the Lunch Box Café. He hails from Leeds and is doing his small part to celebrate by creating a new daily menu to coincide with the different countries playing each day.

The best-seller to date was his “Aussie Burger” which he made from local beef and topped with BBQ sauce, fried onions, sliced beets and a fried egg. Thursday’s menu items included an Italian grilled cheese sandwich made with Riccotta cheese and fresh basil, along with Ajiaco – a Columbian-inspired chicken soup.

Instead of watching the games, Lidguard is stuck working but luckily in Kamloops—where he stands a good chance of spoiler-free PVR recordings when he gets home to watch the games.

Vic Bifano is as excited as anyone about the World Cup and he’d prefer if you were too. The native Italian has a shrine of sorts dedicated not to a specific team so much as the spirit of international competition. He has a collection of national flags and flagpoles to match. He dutifully hangs flags for each country and each game outside his Sun Rivers home for all to see.

It’s created a bit of a stir. He says neighbours who see the flags randomly call to talk footy. It’s about as close to a soccer riot as Kamloops is going to get.

To contact a reporter for this story, email gbrothen@infotelnews.ca, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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