Canada
The Canadian Soccer Association is the governing body for association football in Canada, the highest participation sport in the country. Tremendously popular in the early part of the 20th century, the sport has been on the upswing in the 21st century on the heels of a confederation title in 2000, the hosting of successful FIFA events for men’s and women’s football, and the re-emergence of professional clubs in the country.

Founded in 1912, the Dominion of Canada Football Association (as it was then known) became a member of FIFA on 31 December 1912. The Association naturally held strong ties to Great Britain and the British FAs because of Canada’s standing as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations at the time. Of note, the trophy for Canada’s first national competition was donated by then Governor-General the Duke of Connaught (Prince Arthur of the British Royal family). In 1926, the Connaught Cup was replaced by the FA Trophy (donated by England) for the annual Challenge competition.

While there is evidence of a kind of organised ‘soccer’ played in Canada as early as the 1850s, the first match played under the banner of the established “London Association Rules” was contested in 1876 in Toronto between the Lacrosse Club and the Carlton Cricket Club. In the remaining years of the 19th century, there was a proliferation of loosely-organised football leagues – of predictably varying life spans – throughout the Canadian provinces. Ontario’s Western Football Association, in particular, was one of the earliest football associations formed outside of the United Kingdom when it was inaugurated in 1880. The old WFA even sent a club to tour Great Britain in 1888. In 1904, the WFA’s flagship Galt Football Club won the St. Louis 1904 Olympic Football Tournament over two clubs from USA. 

Through the trials and tribulations of the 20th century, the game continued to develop west of the Atlantic. Organised amateur leagues dotted the length and breadth of the world’s second largest country, with the Association’s Challenge competition played on an annual basis (with the exception of two interruptions because of the World Wars). The Association also sent and invited several touring teams, including a national team that hosted its first international match in Montréal 27 June 1925 (a 1:0 win for Canada over visiting USA).

In 1957, Canada entered the FIFA World Cup qualifying competition for the first time, winning two of four matches but failing to qualify for Sweden 1958. After missing the next two competitions, Canada rejoined the qualifying competition in 1968, which coincided with North America’s renewed interest in the sport thanks to the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England (won by England) and the introduction of the North American Soccer League in USA and Canada.

After missing out on Spain 1982 by a single goal, Canada became CONCACAF champions in 1985 en route to its first participation in the FIFA World Cup finals (at Mexico 1986). Coached by Tony Waiters, the group not only boasted a world of NASL experience, but also a fifth-place finish at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Football Tournament.

From the Association’s 75th anniversary celebrations in 1987, Canada then hosted three FIFA tournaments over a 21-year span: the second FIFA U-17 World Cup in 1987, the first FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2002, and the record-setting FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2007. It was in the year before the Association’s 100th anniversary that Canada was awarded its next FIFA hosting opportunity, the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015.

Inside the last two decades, the sport elicited a renewed passion from Canadians from coast to coast. Crowned CONCACAF women’s champions in 1998, Canada participated in its second FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1999. Four years later at USA 2003, Canada finished fourth overall, with heroics led by tournament all-star Charmaine Hooper and 20-year old scoring sensation Christine Sinclair. The young Sinclair was already a national hero, having won FIFA Golden Ball and Golden Shoe honours in a silver-medal performance at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2002.

Already in the 21st century, Canada has won its second men’s (2000) and women’s (2010) CONCACAF championships, won three CONCACAF women’s youth championships (two U-20 and one U-17), established an annual professional cup competition that plays in new and revived football stadiums in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver, and has developed some promising new players that has drawn the interest of a rejuvenated football nation.

History
Canada officially became a country in 1867, but the story of the land and people that would eventually become Canada is much older. The name 'Canada' is believed to be a native Huron-Iroquois term meaning 'village' and began to be used to refer to the vast expanses of northern North America at around the middle of the 16th century.

Although archaeological studies have dated human presence in the Yukon region back over 25,000 years, European incursions only began around 1000 AD with brief Viking raids. Some 500 years later, in an era of heavy European exploration, Canada's coastline and interior were of special interest to Continental adventurers. At the start of the 17th century, fur traders and trappers from overseas arrived in greater numbers carrying disease and eventually precipitating the decimation of the aboriginal population. As competition for the fur trade increased in the 17th and 18th centuries, wars raged between the remaining natives, French and English. Still a loose confederation of regions in 1837, the 'Canadas' began the process of federation so by 1866 the British North America act created a confederation of four provinces: Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

Many of the British colonies, some of which were formerly French holdings, eventually gave way and a protracted process of peaceful independence started in 1867 and finally culminated officially in 1982 by proclamation of Queen Elizabeth II.
The image of the maple leaf has been associated with Canada since 1868. It was first seen on the Canadian coats of arms granted to Ontario and Québec, it appeared soon after on regimental badges in both World Wars. Since 1965 when the Canadian flag was introduced, the maple leaf has become Canada's most important and enduring national symbol.

Economy
Canada is a modern industrial country and one of the world's wealthiest nations. A free-market economy with marginally more government interference than southern neighbours USA, Canada currently has an unemployment rate of seven per cent. A major 20th century economic boom was based on massive growth in manufacturing, mining, and the service sector transforming the country from a largely rural economic base to one considerably more diversified. Though the service sector continues to be the main growth sector, logging and oil production continue to form an important part of the country's impressive economy. Canada boasts the world's second largest reserve of oil and is one of the planet's most important suppliers of agricultural products. Economic progress has remained more or less stable in the country since the Second World War.

Geography
The second largest country in the world in terms of area behind Russia, Canada occupies most of northern North America from the Atlantic to Pacific coasts. The northernmost settlement in Canada (and the entire world) is Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island just 834 kilometres from the North Pole. From east to west, Canada encompasses six time zones and in addition to its coastlines on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Canada's third seacoast, on the Arctic Ocean, is the longest coastline of any county.

To the south, Canada shares a 5,525-mile boundary with the United States. The Canadian population density of 3.5 per square kilometre is among one of the lowest in the world, with the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor the most densely populated area. Stretching over 3000 miles all the way to the Pacific Northwest territories, the Rocky Mountains and Vancouver Island and up to the frigid northern territories, the climactic and geographical vagaries of the country run an astonishingly varied gamut.

Facts and Figures
A federal constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy Canada is comprised of ten provinces - Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Québec, and Saskatchewan. The three territories are the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon. The nation's capital city is Ottawa. Canada has a population of 32.5 million, with about three-quarters of the country's population - growing steadily as a result of increased immigration - living within 160 kilometres of the US border.

Ethnically diverse and officially bilingual, Canada has over 34 separate ethnic groups. The largest ethnic group is Canadian, followed by English, French, Scottish, Irish, German, Italian, Chinese, Ukrainian and North American Indian. Canada has two official languages: English and French. With 59 percent of the population's first language being English, 23 percent native language is French, leaving the 18 percent have with more then one mother tongue or a mother tongue other than English or French, such as Arabic, Chinese, Cree, Dutch, Inuktitut, Italian, German, Greek, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Tagalog, Ukrainian or Vietnamese.