Edmonton hosts Canada’s defense of the IFAF World Junior Championships

Canada will open its defense of the IFAF World Junior Championships against newcomers Brazil on home soil among four games kicking off the U20 tournament on Saturday, June 22, in Edmonton.

Eight nations will converge on the capital of Alberta from June 22-30 to contest a total of 12 games played across two venues. The City of Champions’ 55,000-capacity Commonwealth Stadium will host the gold and bronze medal deciders on Sunday, June 30, as well as reigning champions Canada’s games. The adjacent Clarke Stadium (3,000 capacity) will feature six games and all team practices.

Tickets for single games, Canada Passes, and Tournament Passes are now on sale through TicketMaster and from the tournament website https://worldjrfootballchampionships.com.

Three-time winners Canada – the most successful nation at the international junior level – will take on a Brazil squad competing in the U20 category for the first time at 5pm in Commonwealth Stadium. The reigning champions won gold in 2018 in front of a crowd of more than 35,000 at Estadio Olímpico Universitario in Mexico City.

This time, Canada will be led by Warren Craney, the former York University head coach who guided Canada to a second world title in 2016, beating the United States 26-6 in Harbin, China. Craney was the team’s defensive coordinator in 2012 when Canada won gold for the first time, in a 23-17 triumph over USA in Austin, Texas.

The opening game at Commonwealth Stadium will see two-time winners the United States face Panama at 12pm. The Americans claimed the inaugural IFAF crown in 2009, featuring future New York Giants first round NFL Draft selection David Wilson at running back, with a 41-3 win over Canada at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. USA triumphed again in 2014 in Kuwait, defeating Canada 40-17, and won the bronze medal in 2018.

Panama, whose only prior appearance at this junior level resulted in an eighth-place finish in 2012, return to the junior international stage where the Central American nation produced its first NFL player, Frank Davis, who went on to play for the Detroit Lions.

Two-time bronze medal winner Japan will begin the quest for another medal on June 22 against Australia at Clarke Stadium, kick off 4pm. The last times these two nations met, Japan won the battle for fifth place 51-14, at the 2018 tournament in Mexico.

Along with Canada and the United States, Japan has participated at every IFAF World Junior Championship, finishing third in Canton, Ohio, in 2009 with a 42-27 win over Mexico and again in 2012 by beating Austria 7-0.

Australia will be guided by John Leijten, who led the men’s national team at IFAF World Championships in Austria 2011 and in the United States in 2015. He has extensive experience coaching in Europe with the Amsterdam Admirals, Dusseldorf Panther and Dresden Monarchs, as well as down under with the Croydon Rangers and Western Crusaders. Australia finished in sixth place in China in 2016, twice beating the hosts by more than 70 points.

The first game of an action-packed Saturday, June 22, sees European champions Austria matched up against Canada 2 in Clarke Stadium at 11am. The host nation will field an additional team due to financial constraints impacting the participation of an additional representative from either Europe or the Americas.

Austria blazed a trail across Europe, winning six successive IFAF European Championship titles, the latest of which came in 2023 with a 42-24 victory over Sweden. On the world stage, Austria was the surprise package of the 2014 tournament in Kuwait, starting as eighth seeds before beating France and the hosts and then only missing out on a bronze medal by a single point loss to Mexico. Austria finished fifth in China in 2016. Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann is among many former standouts to have developed through the successful junior program.

2024 IFAF World Junior Championships Schedule

Saturday, June 22

Commonwealth Stadium

12pm USA vs. Panama (Game 2)

5pm Canada vs. Brazil (Game 4)

 Clarke Stadium

11am Canada 2 vs. Austria (Game 1)

4pm Japan vs. Australia (Game 3)

Wednesday, June 26

Commonwealth Stadium

12pm W2 vs. W3

5pm W1 vs. W4

Clarke Stadium

11am L2 vs. L3
4pm L1 vs. L4

Sunday, June 30

Commonwealth Stadium

12pm Bronze Medal Game

5pm Gold Medal Game

Clarke Stadium

11am Seventh & Eighth Place Game

4pm Fifth & Sixth Place Game

Past winners and host cities

2009: ​Canton, Ohio, USA: ​United States 41, Canada 3

2012: ​Austin, Texas, USA: ​Canada 23, United States 17

2014: ​Kuwait City, Kuwait: ​United States 40, Canada 17

2016: ​Harbin, China: ​​Canada 24, United States 6

2018: ​Mexico City, Mexico: ​Canada 14, Mexico 7

Michael Preston (@PRMikePreston) is currently working with IFAF in a PR capacity. He recently covered Super Bowl LVII as a member of the NFL PR team as he has done for 20+ years. He has held communications positions with NFL Europe, the North