Janelle Janis doesn’t know where she would be if not for the game of soccer.
“I have this conversation with my former teammates, who are now my best friends,” says Janis. “I don’t know where I’d be. It’s taught me so much. It’s built so much character.”
Janis played soccer for the University of Alberta Pandas. She knew what it was like to go from star player to fighting for a spot in the starting 11.
“It prepared me for real life, it showed me that nothing is going to be handed to you.”
Now, she’s key in attracting the biggest soccer event — actually, the world’s biggest sporting event, period — to Edmonton. She’s playing a lead role in the bid to bring some FIFA World Cup games to Commonwealth Stadium, as Canada will co-host the 2026 tournament alongside the United States and Mexico. FIFA officials will visit Edmonton in late November, and a final decision is expected soon thereafter, with Toronto and Vancouver also in the mix.
“I think we’re just beginning to under-stand what an incredible opportunity this is for the city,” she says. “And, even if we are unsuccessful, it has helped show us how much it takes to set up this city for excellence. I think we’ve led the way out of all the bid cities when it comes to our diligence.”
Janis, showing once again all the things soccer taught her about life, credits her team for helping Edmonton attract events such as the World Junior Hockey Championships. And, while Explore Edmonton’s culture portfolio had previously tended to bid on events such as the Junos and Canadian Country Music Awards, she says the pandemic has shifted its thinking. How can Edmonton attract more culinary events? And is there a place for arts tourism in the city’s promotion strategy? No matter the direction Explore Edmonton takes, Janis is confident her team can win.