Canada’s CP Football team enters Parapan Am Games on a high

Canadian Paralympic Committee

November 15, 2023

Team coming off best-ever performance at World Cup


Photo provided by Canada Soccer

SANTIAGO – It should be a confident Canadian CP Football squad that hits the field on Saturday at the Estadio Bicentenario Municipal de La Florida in its opening preliminary round match against Venezuela.

Team Canada made significant inroads at last year’s World Cup in Salou, Spain, equaling its best ever result with a ninth-place finish. That performance has the team believing it can reach the podium at the Games for the first time since 2007.

CP Football is an adaptation of association football for athletes with Cerebral Palsy and other neurological disorders, including stroke and traumatic brain injury. It is the only sport at the Games not part of the Paralympics, yet it promises to be one of the hottest tickets with the popularity of soccer in Chile.

Among the Parapan Am teams at the World Cup, Brazil won the bronze, USA was fourth and Argentina eighth out of 15 nations. The first match against the Venezuelans (15th at that World Cup) is crucial as Canada played them to a 3-3 draw in the prelims at the World Cup.

‘’It’s going to be a hard tournament,’’ said Canada’s star player Samuel Charron, the World Cup MVP, with five goals in five matches and a national team member since 2010, when he was 12.

‘’We have six games in eight days, and it will be hard on the body. But the common factor on this team is the love of playing for Canada. And being at a major Games like this with all the other sports we are going to get a lot of adrenaline from that.’’

Charron, from Ottawa, has been on many national teams and he believes this squad has the talent to do something special.

‘’I think a medal is realistic goal here if we play to our full potential,’’ said the 25-year-old just hours after the team touched down in Chile. ‘’This is very strong region in the sport and to get on the podium here would be a major accomplishment.’’

After Venezuela, the Canadians face Brazil on Sunday, Chile on Monday, Argentina on Wednesday, and USA on Thursday. The medal matches are next Saturday with 1 vs 2 for the gold, 3 vs 4 for bronze, and 5 vs 6 for fifth.

At the last Parapan Ams in Lima in 2019, Canada did not participate. Brazil took the gold, Argentina was second, and the U.S. third. At Toronto 2015, the Canadians were fourth with Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela 1-2-3.

The sport wasn’t part of the 2011 Games. In 2007, Canada won the bronze with Brazil first and Argentina second. 2023 team member Dustin Hodgson was part of that 2007 squad while Charron, Hodgson and Nicholas Hefferan of London, Ont., were in Toronto.

“It’s always exciting to go to big international matches,” Canada’s longtime head coach Drew Ferguson told “It’s gonna be a difficult event for us, so we’ll have to be at our very best. Hopefully, we can upset one or two and at least try to get into a medal game. That’s our goal, it won’t be easy but it’ll be a great experience.’’

The second youngest athlete on the entire 140-member Canadian Parapan Am team is 16-year-old  Isaiah Smeaton-Katzenberg of Etobicoke, Ont. He received some playing time at the World Cup in a match against sixth-place England.

‘’It was so cool, that English team showed what people can do with a disability, they are so skilled, it was fun,’’ he said. “To be at a big tournament here is such a thrill. It’s big week of soccer and you can’t ask for more than that.’’

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