I don’t recall any time in history when there have been so many sporting accomplishments by the youth of Canada. They are not only competing with the best in the world, they are beating the best in the world. It has been a dizzying experience watching, hearing or reading about these performances one after the other. When you take a closer look at what these mostly teenagers are doing in their respective sports and then look at them as a group… Canada, be proud. Be extremely proud of these moments and these athletes since this may only be the start for none of them have even reached their full potential yet. It really is difficult not to get excited.
Under pressure, Quinn Ngawati with the one handed pass that assisted on a Wolfpack try.
You are already familiar with Connor McDavid, who just signed the 4th biggest contract in NHL history. He is just 6 months outside of his teen years. Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 first overall NBA draft pick is just 22 and he has already averaged 20+ pts per game in his first two seasons. And in my last post, we learned about Quinn Ngawati the first born and raised Canadian to play Rugby League. But it doesn’t stop there either.
The 2016 Junior Wimbledon Champion was Canadian Denis Shapovalov. He was 17. Lance Stroll has just become the youngest rookie driver ever to get a podium finish in Formula 1. The 18 year old finished 3rd at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Thankfully while on that podium, he wasn’t charged for drinking… champagne… out of a shoe. I kid you not.
This past week we have seen two other stories that for those not paying attention, have come out of nowhere. The first is the Canadian men’s national soccer team which just started the 2017 Gold Cup tournament. After beating French Guiana 4-2, the Canadian team managed to tie 26th ranked Costa Rica 1-1. To put this all into perspective; the Gold Cup is played every 2 years, and the last time 100th ranked Canada scored was in 2011. That was three Tournaments ago. Not only is Canada most likely to advance to the next round of this years competition, but they are playing an exciting,attacking style of soccer having already scored 5 goals. So what does this have to do with the youth in Canada? Well, three of those goals were scored by 16 year old Alphonso Davies. Did I mention the new soccer wunderkid already plays in Major League Soccer for the Vancouver Whitecaps? Yes, Davies could be very, very special at a time. Wouldn’t it be something incredible if, as predicted, the 2026 World Cup of soccer is partially hosted by Canada and we had a decent team? For those of us who remember 1986, I can guarantee you, it would be spectacular.
Finally, we have another accomplishment that is epic at any level. The Canadian Men’s basketball team won the U19 World Championship. This isn’t just the first U19 World Championship that was won, this was the first ever World Basketball Championships of any kind for Canada. It is a monumental feat and as the added “whipped cream, sprinkled nuts and cherry on top” bonus; it was Canada who in the semi-finals beat perennial winners, USA. By 12. With swagger. Then in the finals they disposed of Italy with a commanding 79-60 performance. To be champions you usually need two things. A great team and a superstar. Let me introduce you to possibly Canada’s next superstar.
Mississauga’s RJ Barrett led the way for Canada. Barrett has already been projected as the number one pick in the 2019 draft, so it isn’t as if he came out of nowhere. But his 38 pts, 13 rebounds and 5 assist performance in the stunning upset of the Americans, was something special for anyone, let alone a 17 year old playing against kids 2 years older. Even when he had a cold shooting night in the finals, he still managed a double double to lead the team with 18 points and 12 boards.
What an incredible time it is for youth sports in Canada. They are beginning to take centre stage in a more consistent basis. This isn’t just about celebrating their current accomplishments, it is also about looking to the future and believing that with some planning, a lot of effort, great support and a little bit of luck, the future will be even brighter! It isn’t so much because of the skill set, although it is there in abundance; but there is this confidence across all sports, a belief really, that Canada is not only good enough but great enough, to be the very best.
Quite frankly, they are already proving it.
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