Aldergrove’s Joel Waterman is playing for Canada at the FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) World Cup in Qatar.
For the 26-year-old centre back, who began playing soccer at age five with Aldergrove Youth Soccer Club, it is the achievement of a lifetime dream.
Waterman used to have a schedule on his wall with a entry for 2026, the year when Canada, Mexico and the United States were to host the FIFA World Cup, when he hoped to be playing for Canada.
He is four years ahead of schedule, having made his debut on the Canadian team playing against Bahrain in a pre-tournament “friendly” or exhibition game on Friday, Nov. 11 — less than two weeks before the World Cup got underway. Waterman played the full 90 minutes, as Canada came from behind to pull off a 2-2 draw.
“I called my parents, both my mom and my dad,” said Waterman. “The family was all together sitting at home watching and when they saw I was starting, you know, they were crying and cheering. There are so many emotions, just knowing what they have sacrificed, making sure I was there on Saturday mornings, all the driving they had to do, and just knowing how many things I had to give up to be here. My parents are a part of this as much as I am, so this was everyone’s success.”
Two days later, he was officially named to the Canadian team.
Waterman’s roots go deep in Aldergrove and Langley.
At 13, Waterman was selected for the British Columbia provincial team where he was coached by current LUSA technical director Mark Parker.
“Technically, I was his coach, but Joel played at such a high level, it was more like having a coach on the field,” Hunter recalled.
This marks Canada’s first participation at the men’s FIFA World Cup since Mexico 1986, though Hunter noted that Waterman is not the first ACSS grad to play in the tournament.
Another Aldergrove player, Randy Ragan, was a midfielder on the ’86 team and his jersey, along with Waterman’s, hangs on the school’s Wall of Fame.
In 2014, Waternan began playing for Langley’s Trinity Western University, where he registered nine goals and five assists in 57 career games (48 starts) and, as team captain, helped the TWU Spartans win a Canada West silver medal.
Waterman made his professional debut in 2018, playing for the Calgary Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League, helping Calgary win the spring and fall championships on the way to the CPL finals, where they finished second.
Canada’s first game at the World Cup was scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 23 against Belgium, followed by games on Sunday, Nov. 27 against Croatia, and Thursday, Dec. 1 against Morocco .
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