Originally published on CBC.ca
I had to do it. How could I not; after all the World Cup only happens every four years. The first jersey I tried on was a perfect fit. There was no fighting it now, I told myself, as I was walking up to the cash.
The voice should have been mine, but instead it belonged to a fellow customer, trying on a Cameroon shirt.
"You guys have a good chance."
I smiled and nodded in agreement.
"So do you guys," this time the gentleman's praise was directed to the English supporter standing behind me.
I wasn't sure how to react. Out of nowhere the entire store burst into debate. Fans, from every corner, each holding their respective jerseys began interacting. The store owner quickly joined in, overruling all objections to his envisioned French victory, incensing the Ireland supporters. Naturally, I stayed quiet at all mention of hand balls.
I left the store speechless and returned to the office with the biggest smile. For the rest of the day I neglected the usual planning and number crunching and spent my time thinking about what an amazing thing I had just experienced. It was great, but it was my girlfriend who put it all in perspective when she pointed out, "Only in Canada."
And you know what, she's right. In what other country can you enter a soccer store and find supporters of Nigeria, Portugal and Chile? I'm excited about the World Cup and I believe that all of us, despite our differences, are about to discover how soccer, at least for the next 30 days, can bring us all together.