Beckie Set For FIFA World Cup Debut|
Janine Beckie, seen here in a previous friendly match, will be on Canada's roster when the FIFA U-20 World Cup begins Tuesday evening. Canada will face Ghana in its opening round match. (Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer)
Aug. 4, 2014
LUBBOCK, Texas - Tuesday might be a different type of gameday for Texas Tech junior Janine Beckie.
One of the most accomplished players in school history after just two seasons, Beckie will wake up Tuesday morning in Toronto, eat breakfast and then prepare for what might be the biggest match of her young career.
A few hours later, Beckie and the rest of her Canadian teammates will take the pitch to open the FIFA U-20 World Cup, facing Ghana at 7 p.m. CT in front of what is expected to be a capacity crowd at Toronto's National Soccer Stadium. The Ghana match will air throughout the United States on ESPN3.com.
"It is such a blessing being here," said Beckie, who will likely start at forward in Canada's first match of pool play. "This has been my dream for as long as I can remember and it still doesn't feel real to me that this is happening. The World Cup is something every little soccer player dreams of, and the fact that I get to live my dream is something I wouldn't trade for the world."
This will be Beckie's first time playing in a World Cup as she was selected to Canada's U-20 roster earlier this summer after impressive training camp performances.
In addition to its match with Ghana, Canada will also battle Finland at 7 p.m. Friday evening and then North Korea at 6 p.m. next Tuesday (Aug. 12) in the final match of pool play. The top two teams from each pool will advance to the knockout stage that begins Aug. 16.
Canada, the host country for the first time since 2002, will easily be the crowd favorite throughout the tournament as tickets are quickly approaching sellout status. Canada will play its first two matches in Toronto before traveling to Olympic Stadium in Montreal to face North Korea.
"People seem to be really excited for this tournament," Beckie said. "It is not every day when there is a World Cup in your country and people have really been showing us their support. They have bought almost all the tickets available for the first two games here in Toronto."
Beckie and her Canadian teammates played two friendlies against Mexico just over a week ago to prepare for the tournament. It was a good experience, Beckie said, especially after reviewing the game tape.
But the atmosphere for a friendly and a World Cup match can be quite different, Beckie pointed out. Canada traveled to Mexico for the two friendlies and will now instead play in front of its home crowd.
Beckie is used to large crowds at the collegiate level as Texas Tech routinely packs over 1,000 fans inside the John Walker Soccer Complex for a Friday night match. The Red Raiders boast one - if not the best - home atmospheres in the Big 12 and would rank among the top teams in the nation as well.
National Soccer Stadium can seat more than 20,000 fans and is expected to be filled for Tuesday night's opener against Ghana, making it the largest crowd to attend one of Beckie's matches.
"I think the feeling is going to be one that I will for sure never forget," Beckie said. "I think the atmosphere is going to be electric with this being a home World Cup. It is going to be an amazing place to play and nothing like I have ever experienced."
One thing is evident to Beckie, though. She will have plenty of support coming her way from inside the confines of the John Walker Soccer Complex.
"I have heard a lot from teammates and coaches and the amount of support and encouragement that I am getting from them is so amazing," Beckie said. "My teammates have really shown their support with kind words, texts and phone calls that just always remind me that they are cheering for me and praying for me.
"It's so amazing to have 30 sisters who truly want to see me succeed."