By Jon Rumley, Walmart Canada Corporate Affairs
It’s time to kick off the soccer chats at Walmart Canada because the 2022 FIFA World Cup is here and Canada’s men’s national team has qualified for the first time in 36 years.
With more than 100,000 associates across the country, Walmart has soccer fans from coast to coast.
“We’re really excited for the World Cup,” said Madeline Tur, Walmart Canada Store Manager in Waterloo, Ont., who will be cheering for Poland. “People are already talking soccer in my store. The World Cup gives us something in common to root for and get excited about.”
Walmart Canada has been preparing for the World Cup for over a year, says Samantha Nieto, Walmart Canada’s Director of Sporting Goods. Today, the retailer has more than 200 unique items available in food, apparel, party and sporting goods, including official FIFA World Cup products for fans of all ages.
“We have everything you need to celebrate,” Samantha said. “Price will be really important to our customers this year.”
Take soccer balls, just for kicks. Walmart Canada sells more than 330,000 soccer balls annually. Official size soccer balls are just $6 every day at Walmart.
When associates aren’t putting soccer balls on display, they’re displaying their soccer skills on the pitch.
“Being a player and coach myself, and now watching my daughter play, seeing the potential for soccer in Canada is really exciting,” said Jeremiah Rodriguez, Vice-President, DC Operations, Walmart Logistics.
“I haven’t seen this much excitement in Canada since the 1994 World Cup. Back then, everyone wanted to play soccer. It was the thing to do in the mid-‘90s. We couldn’t find enough soccer fields in Calgary.”
Jeremiah says he’s most excited to watch Lionel Messi play in what’s expected to be his final World Cup with Argentina. And he isn’t alone in his passion for the beautiful game.
Kevon Celestine is a General Manager at Walmart Logistics in Moncton, N.B., who also loves the sport. He has coached the children of Walmart associates in Ontario youth soccer leagues over the years.
In 2019, Kevon attending a coaching conference with John Herdman, head coach of Canada’s men’s team, which has inspired him to motivate athletes and associates.
“[John] spoke about getting the team to believe that they could make a difference. It’s about building that confidence and unity.”
These are the same skills that make for great teams at Walmart – stronger together.
Kevon admits he’ll be cheering for England this year, but he has a soft spot in his heart for Canada.
Canada faces Belgium on Nov. 23, Croatia on Nov. 27 and Morocco on Dec. 1.