Canada Soccer's #WeCAN World Cup Documentary

#WeCAN docuseries (2022) sends a World Cup message

Canada Soccer’s #WeCAN World Cup Documentary Series is 7 enjoyable episodes that introduce you to the Band of Brothers who qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Fueled by his long love of Canadian soccer, Writer-Director Max Bell crafts a story of belief and build up that should convince Canadians they are destined to be a soccer-loving nation.

Embedded as in an ethnographic study, Max Bell captures CANMNT manager John Herdman and the players during team talks, practices, and qualifying games. Segments reveal the players’ roots and their camaraderie. As the games proceed and Canada rises up the table, you see the team evolve.

Herdman molds the squad from an underdog mentality to one of being ruthless and sending a message. He has studied Sun Tzu. Win or Die. Men fight like devils when there is nothing but death in front of them. Win, or you’ll never come back to this World Cup. He tells them to score the most goals ever, which they do in a 11-0 drubbing of the Cayman Islands.

After they’ve beaten the USMNT and then earned a 1-1 draw at Mexico’s Azteca, Herdman tells the players:

“We’re new Canada, and we proved it tonight.”

John Herdman

Canada finishes top of the table in CONCACAF qualifying. The team and its vibe reminds me of the WC 2002 USMNT team in Korea-Japan. If this series  doesn’t convince you to be a Canada Soccer fan, then nothing will.

Despite COVID

We often put aside painful memories as quickly as we can, and this series is a reminder of the pandemic from which we are still emerging. Canada shut its borders early and for a very long time. Once play resumes, players undergo constant COVID testing. Until Match #9, the CANMNT has to practice and play its home games in the USA, and its first 11 qualifying matches are played without fans.

On a relative mortality basis, Canada was not as affected by the pandemic as was the USA, as Canada did not have an incompetent pox of a president who polarized the country on enforcing public health. The USA’s 332M population suffered 97M COVID cases and 1M COVID deaths, while Canada’s 38M population experienced 4.4M cases and 47k deaths. Good government matters.

In Conclusion

While Canada has long had a successful women’s team (CANWNT), the country needs the CANMNT to be popular as well. The series points out that soccer’s expanding popularity and success are nurtured by current and former players, fans, the staff of Canada Soccer, podcasters like Kicked Back‘s Caroline Szwed, and  content creators like Max Bell. As an unpaid college student, Bell  created his own youtube channel following the CANMNT at the 2009 Gold Cup. In a sense, all of these people are growing the game despite the Canadian federation, but that’s another story.

WeCAN qualified screenshot
WeCAN qualified screenshot

While I hope CANMNT goes far in the sadly corrupt WC 2022, the fact is that teams who haven’t qualified in decades rarely win a game at the WC. But you never know. Maybe 39 year old Captain Atiba Hutchinson will be a lucky charm. Maybe Alfonso Davies will not be hampered by the myocarditis he developed after COVID. Maybe John Herdman’s belief and oratory will power this team far beyond sending a message. As Atiba Hutchinson says in the 7th and final episode, “Let’s put our country on the map.”

Like King Arthur, once CANMNT plant their sword in the pitch, anyone can be crowned.

9 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 9