Tuesday 05 March 2019, 19:21

Canuck passion alive and well on the Algarve

  • Born in Canada, Patrick and Helen Ferreira live in Albufeira

  • The pair organise trips to the Algarve Cup for Canadian tourists

  • Their daughters, who are Canucks fans themselves, play for a local team

One week, 12 teams – seven of them qualifiers for the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™ and five venues in the southernmost region of Portugal.

Every year since 1994 the international women’s football calendar has seen the leading teams in the world come together at the Algarve Cup, Europe’s oldest friendly tournament.

Since 2001, a Canadian-born couple have been doing their bit to help fans support their teams at the tournament. Patrick and Helen Ferreira run a bar in the centre of the town of Albufeira, though this is no ordinary watering hole.

A place of pilgrimage for football fans and for the thousands of Canadian tourists who visit the region every year, it is the base from which the Ferreiras have spent the last 18 years organising bus trips to the stadiums where the competition is held.

“We’re so proud to support Canada,” said Patrick. “Whether they’ve come for the tournament or not, we’ve always taken people to see teams such as Sweden and the USA. We love this tournament. It’s very enjoyable and we’ll keep on going.”

The Ferreiras took 75 people to the Canucks’ opening match of this year’s tournament against Iceland. Among them were their daughters Hope and Grace, who support the country of their parents’ birth and play for a local amateur club.

A dream inspired The Ferreira girls have been following Canada’s progress for some years now and have a real passion for the women’s game.

Last year Hope had the good fortune to meet the legendary Christine Sinclair and pose for a photo with her. The encounter proved so inspirational for her that she promptly enrolled at Alto da Colina, a well-known local football academy, where she was joined shortly afterwards by her sister. Together, the two siblings are sharing lots of exciting experiences on the pitch.

“One’s a goalkeeper and the other’s a winger,” said their father, before revealing their dream for the future: “They’d both love to play for Canada one day.”