World Cup spirit flies high
by Glynn Brothen
Vic Bifano changes the flags over for the second time on Tuesday to coincide with the teams playing the afternoon game.
(GLYNN BROTHEN / iNFOnews.ca)
June 18, 2014 - 11:39 AM
KAMLOOPS – We all have our passions – but not our whole neighbourhood knows about them.
Vic Bifano is a fan of many things – his wife Mavis, his children, fig trees, Italian culture, education and sports. They are all important to him, but his passion for flags shines each day he displays a new set on the grassy knoll behind his house at Sun Rivers.
Bifano’s flags change often to coincide with a particular holiday or world event – but lately the flags have changed twice a day to suit his summer passion – the FIFA World Cup.
“People love it,” Bifano said on his deck before going out to change the flags for the Tuesday afternoon soccer game between Russia and South Korea.
Bifano's wife, Mavis says neighbours call her to ask what countries certain flags belong to and many encourage the flags in the neighbourhood.
"Not one neighbour has ever complained," she said.
Bifano’s collection started when he was a student at SFU – on a school trip to Anchorage, Alaska he and his friends took a couple of flags from their hotel.
“My fortune was the American flag,” said Bifano “But this was a long time ago and we were younger and we told the guy he could charge us for the flags and we would pay him for them.”
After obtaining his first flag, Bifano said his collection snowballed when he and friends would pick up others from the countries they traveled. In total he now has around 85 flags, most of which are neatly organized on hangers labelled by geographic location.
It’s easy to tell who Bifano’s favourite soccer team is when he steps out of his car; there is a smaller scale Italian flag clipped to the window.
“Sports is in my blood,” he said.
Bifano, a retired educator and basketball coach, was born in Italy and immigrated to Canada with his parents. While he and his fellow European friends sometimes watch the games together, Bifano makes sure to watch every day, whether it’s alone or with friends.
“I’ve been following the world cup literally since 1966... for me it became a pastime,” Bifano said.
“Soccer was not something I coached or for that matter ever played. But there’s something about the game that is astronomical and that’s why, I think, half the world’s population will watch the world cup...for me, it’s just picture perfect. The level of skill - there is a pageantry about it.”
Even though he remains focused on displaying the flags and watching the games, Bifano remains modest and says he’s not the biggest soccer fan in Kamloops.
“I think there’s lots of exceptional soccer fans in Kamloops,” he said.
“There is a passion within the community when you look for it, whether it’s the Italian cultural centre or the Hungarian group – today the Shark Club was packed (with fans).”
Maybe it’s not as local as it is in Vancouver or Toronto, but definitely I think there’s a huge interest in the game itself.”
Even after the event ends and the flags are retired, one will remain standing year round even though the country's team hasn't made it into the FIFA finals since 1986.
“The Canadian flag flies no matter what and flies higher than the rest,” beamed Bifaro.
“I’m absolutely patriotic. Canada is my home and will always be my home.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014