WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Erwin Fung models the soccer jersey that Canadians will wear at World Youth Day in August.
EDMONTON - The Canadian delegation to World Youth Day will be wearing a red and white soccer jersey designed and produced in Edmonton.
Erwin Fung, a volunteer with the Office of Youth Evangelization, designed the jersey and then made it available to dioceses across Canada. About 3,000 young Catholics from across Canada are expected to attend the Aug. 16-21 event in Madrid, Spain.
In Sydney, Australia, in 2008, the Canadians wore a stock hockey jersey with the WYD logo screen printed on it.
"But because this is Spain and the national sport is soccer, Erwin designed this soccer jersey that's gone across Canada," noted Andrew Papenbrock, director of Youth Evangelization for the Edmonton Archdiocese.
So far 3,500 jerseys have been ordered across Canada. The Vancouver Archdiocese ordered 500 and Montreal 700. "It's a great unifying thing," Papenbrock said of the jersey. "In Madrid when you see this jersey you will know we are from Canada."
Fung, 30, said the Youth Evangelization Office was looking for a way to identify the Canadian pilgrims when the idea for the soccer jersey emerged.
"Since it is Spain we figured hockey jerseys would be too warm and because Spain is a big soccer country, we decided to go with soccer jerseys."
The shirt has the Canadian WYD logo on the front and the No. 11 on the back. The 11 represents the year.
The jerseys are red with white stripes on the sleeves and down the sides. "So it gives us a Canadian identity there," Fung said. "It looks pretty cool."
The jerseys, which cost $15 each, were produced through the University of Alberta Bookstore, where Fung works. They range from extra small all the way up to 3XL. "We wanted to make sure that everybody has a chance to fit into one."
Fung has gone to four World Youth Days, including Toronto, Paris and Sydney, but this time he will stay in Edmonton helping out with local WYD activities.
"I think World Youth Day is a life-changing event," he says. "It's amazing to see hundreds of thousands of young people and then you realize that they are all Catholic and that they are all there to have an encounter with Christ."