Hugh and Audrey Pereira have been dedicated fans of the Canadian Men’s National Team since 1994, when their son, Ken Pereira, played his first international match for Canada. Audrey has been at all of Ken’s games – including four Pan American Games, two Olympic Games, two World Cups and four Commonwealth Games. According to Hugh, their favourite thing about watching Ken play is “his intensity and passion for the sport – and his love of country.”
“I love having my parents watch me play – it’s great,” says Ken. “I think they really enjoy it, especially with all the other parents there. My mom definitely gets nervous for my games – probably from two days before the match until the final whistle… I would love my whole family to come watch the Olympics in London, especially now that my nieces are old enough. Just two games to go…”
Hugh and Audrey are not the only parents in the stands – many diehard fans have travelled to Guadalajara to cheer on Team Canada at the 2011 Pan American Games. We asked several athletes what it means to have their family in the stands. This is what they had to say…
“I love having my parents in the stands. My favourite part of the match is when we line up at center field for the anthems and I look into the crowd and make eye contact with my parents. I see how proud they are of me and it makes me feel ready. My mom always reminds me to “play from my heart” so when I make eye contact with her I know that’s what she is telling me.
“My parents are the main driving force that allowed me to pursue field hockey. When I was in high school I wanted to play for the provincial team which practiced in Vancouver. So every weekend, my parents would drive me 8 hours for a 5 hour practice and then 8 hours back home again. They did that for 2 years! The amount of time they have sacrificed for me so that I could pursue my dreams is pretty incredible. They always made me feel like I could achieve anything I wanted.”
“My parents, my aunt and my 93-year-old grandmother are all here together – it makes me so happy. It’s really special to have them here. My parents are the reason I have a field hockey career. They have done everything for me to get me here – they’ve supported me all along and never questioned my decision to continue going. They are there for me in every way possible.
“Thank you to everyone in PEI, the support from there has been tremendous. I am so lucky to be from such an amazing place with amazing people.”
“It feels amazing to have my parents in the stands. They’ve been supporting me my entire athletic career. To have my mom take two weeks off work and fly down here is outstanding. Seeing her in the stands after each game is great.
“My parents have supported me all the way financially and emotionally. When things aren’t going great, they’re always there to talk to.
“Thank you for all your support – I hope I’ve made you proud!”
“I feel very luck to have my parents here in Guadalajara to support me. There is nothing like looking at your parents during the national anthem before a game – knowing they’re physically there, cheering me on no matter what is big support – a big help for games like this.
“My parents are both very athletic so they have always supported me with sports. Once I chose field hockey they both jumped in head first doing anything they could to help me get to where I am today.”
“My mom has been here for every game in Guadalajara. It’s been great having her in the stands. Her support means the world to me. My dad is flying in today, so I’m excited about that. Throughout my sporting career they’ve always been there supporting me. They’re the ones who said, ‘go play field hockey.’ As former athletes themselves – they’re really excited to see me performing and doing well in my sport. My parents and brother even moved to Vancouver to support me. They’re the reason why I’m here.
“Thank you for everything! I especially thank my dad for taking the time to come down.”
“It’s fantastic to have my family in the stands – I not only have my parents here, but my three sisters as well. They’re all decked out in their Canada gear. I look up in the stands after half time and at the end of the game and it’s great to see the people that love and support you.
“It’s hard to quantify what my parents have meant to my career. They’ve driven me everywhere, supported me financially, and have always been there when I need support. There’s nothing I can say that captures how much they mean to me.”
“My parents have been a support to me throughout my entire career, so it’s always nice to have that familiar face and hear that familiar voice in the crowd. I started playing field hockey when I was six years old and they’ve taken me to every thing I’ve ever done with field hockey. They’ve been a huge impact on my career and I probably wouldn’t be here without them. My fiance is also a huge support to me.”
“It feels awesome to have so many parents here. It’s good to see a lot of Canadians fans here – it gets us pumped up for matches. My parents have played a huge role in my career – they’re the ones that got me into field hockey, and it’s been great always having them there for me.
“Thank you to everyone that came to Guadalajara to support us! It’s great to have you here cheering us on.”
Team Canada’s success truly depends on the support and encouragement of an entire community. Thank you to the families of national athletes that have dedicated countless hours to this team. Thank you to the many family members that have travelled to Guadalajara – and thank you to the dedicated community cheering loud from Canada.