For the first time in nearly two years, on Monday, August 2, the HFX Wanderers professional soccer team will be playing at its home stadium. The upcoming game against Athlético Ottawa marks the Wanderers’ return from Winnipeg, where the club played the first eight games of the Canadian Premier League season.
Matt Fegan, the Wanderers’ vice president of football operations, says there’s been an air of excitement among the team these past few days. “Just the concept of getting the fans back together again… we're looking forward to it,” he says.
Some newer players who joined the team in 2019 or 2020 have never played in Halifax before now. “You can imagine the excitement at the moment, where they are just so keen to just play, finally, in front of our home fans,” Fegan says.
“When home games play in the summer, it’s the best thing ever. The people are so great, the fans are so amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”
He explains that the homecoming is especially nice because the Wanderers have a strong, positive relationship with their fans and community members that they’ve missed these past two pandemic years. It’s a sentiment echoed by attacker Akeem Garcia, who spoke to the Wanderers’ relationship with their fans in an interview with The Coast earlier this summer.
“When home games play in the summer, it’s the best thing ever. The people are so great, the fans are so amazing,” Garcia says. “I've never seen anything like it in my life.”
Though it’s exciting that the world of live sports is slowly opening up, the Wanderers will still be following stringent restrictions. Fegan, who says there’s yet to be a single COVID case on the team, explains that all players are double dosed, they’re in a small training bubble, and they do regular PCR and oxygen tests ahead of games.
The homecoming game will be followed by another home game on August 7, against York United.
HFX Wanderers vs Athlético Ottawa on Monday, August 2 at 3pm, and vs York United on Saturday, August 7 at 3pm, at the Wanderers Grounds, Summer Street at Sackville Street, tickets website