Vancouver Whitecaps Celebrate Vaisakhi

The Vancouver Whitecaps hosted their rivals Toronto FC on April 6th 2024. This was a massive all-Canadian matchup. The Whitecaps were looking to continue their hot streak to the season as the team only had one loss in their last five matches.

This was the Whitecaps third annual Vaisakhi Celebration Match. Vaisakhi is one of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar. Vaisakhi, also known as Baisakhi is a spring festival which happens on 14th of April every year. It signifies the importance of spring harvest celebration primarily in Punjab and Northern India. Vaisakhi is also the date of the Indian Solar New Year. Vaisakhi is a major Sikh festival which marks the birth of Khalsa order by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of Sikhism, on 13th April 1699. The Surrey Vaisakhi parade is the world’s biggest outside of India, attracting over 500,000 people annually.

There were various different attractions for fans to enjoy prior to the match kickoff. Some of the attractions were soccer clinics for youth from Surrey School District and members of the Surrey Football Club and Akal United for pre-match clinics. Moreover, fans were encouraged to team up with the Sikh Motorcycle Club for a colorful march to the match, which started from Granville and Robson Street. DJ Heer from Lucid Entertainment was spinning the latest bhangra music outside Terry Fox Plaza, which had the fans dancing. Next, Red FM 93.1 was presenting the Crown Prince of Bhangra Jazzy B to the crowd for a pre-match performance alongside DJ Heer.

Jaswinder Singh Bains AKA Jazzy B was born in Durgapur, Nawanshahr Punjab, India. He moved to Surrey, British Columbia, Canada with his family during his youth. After moving to Canada he began to mix hip hop culture with bhangra music, which created a unique style and as a result he became a global sensation. In 2016, Jazzy B became the first South Asian to be inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame, earning a star on Vancouver’s Starwalk on Granville Street. Since 1993, he has released 17 studio albums and has won countless international awards.

Jessie Sohpaul a local artist, designed this year’s Vaisakhi logo and scarf for the Whitecaps match. The scarf was designed with Punjabi script (Gurmukhi) into an image and the mountains in the Caps logo read “Vaisakhi” in Punjabi. The scarf illustrated the traditional floral phulkari pattern. Wheat was used to represent the richness of the fields in Punjab. The main color scheme “gold” was used to represent royalty and the Caps celebrating 50 years. The scarves were available for purchase at merchandise stands throughout BC place.

Jugpreet Bajwa, an internationally acclaimed singer performed the national anthem. I have listened to variety of different songs produced by Jugpreet and he has an exceptional voice. He can sing in several different languages including, English, French, Hindi & Punjabi. Furthermore, he has won several National and International Awards.

The Whitecaps began the match with high intensity. The Caps scored early in the match at the six minute mark, it was Brian White scoring the opening goal, it was his second goal of the season and it was his 42nd goal for the Caps in all competitions. That goal made him the team’s second top all-time scorer of the MLS era.

Toronto battled back and created their own chances and they nearly levelled in the 18th minute, after Deandre Kerr struck the post and the ball was barely cleared to safety. As a result, the Whitecaps would make their opposition pay for their costly miss to tie the game. In the 29th minute, Whitecaps Alessandro Schopf placed a left footed cross into the six yard box and Fafa Picault headed the ball into the net to make it 2-0 for the Whitecaps. This was Fafa’s third goal of the season and it was a thing of beauty.

The first half was about both teams playing physical and finishing their tackles, however, there were no yellow cards shown as cautions. It was a fierce finish by the Whitecaps to the first half as they kept the pressure on until the break. At half-time the Whitecaps led 2-0.

Jazzy B performed at half-time on the pitch at BC Place, joined by members from the Shan E Punjab Arts Club. The crowd were on their feet dancing to the various beats of Jazzy B’s songs and everyone had a great time. Jazzy B’s performance had the crowd all geared up for the second half of the game.

The second half was all about the Whitecaps keeping their composure and not giving Toronto any chances to get back into the match. Toronto was pressing to score a goal in the second half, to swing momentum in their favour, however, that was not in the cards. Toronto was pressing in the 80th minute with a corner kick in the Whitecaps defensive half, with their players committing into the offensive half. However, the Whitecaps cleared the threat from the ensuing corner kick and they went on the counter attack. Ryan Gauld was sprung on the breakaway as he sprinted away from two Toronto players, as Gauld passed the 18 yard box he calmly placed a left footed shot into the left corner of the net to make it the score 3-0 for the Whitecaps in the 81st minute. Moreover, the Whitecaps would add a fourth goal in the 89th minute courtesy of Ranko Vaselinovic as he was setup by Ryan Raposo from the ensuing corner kick.

The final score would end up being 4-0 for the Whitecaps and this was great win for the team. The Whitecaps held majority of the possession at 51.6% to Toronto’s 48.4%, the Whitecaps had 14 shots and 7 shots on goal compared to 7 shots and 3 shots on goal for Toronto. The Whitecaps committed 11 fouls with 2 yellow cards compared to Toronto’s 18 fouls and 5 yellow cards. Overall, this was a great team effort and the Whitecaps prevailed at the end with a shutout victory against their Canadian rivals.

All in all, the crowd of 24,678 fans enjoyed the Whitecaps victory and the Vaisakhi celebrations. Lastly, I would highly recommend every Vancouver Whitecaps fan to come check out a Vaisakhi celebration match live at BC Place as it is well worth the price of admission.

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