An Ode To Christine Sinclair
I was seven years old when my dad first took me to a women’s soccer match. It was a sunny July day and Canada was taking on Brazil in an international friendly that he just so happened to have gotten free tickets for from a friend.
Remember, back in these days, tickets to games for our national teams – both men’s and women’s – were not truly a sought-after commodity. Home games for our squads were rare in and of themselves, something that was noted in this Toronto Star recap of the match.
I don’t remember the match truly. I was seven. I didn’t even remember the score until I found the aforementioned TorStar article. But I do remember, as if it was in the third-person perspective, watching a 7 year-old kid who looked like Harry Potter screaming at the top of his lungs as Sinclair netted a ’53 goal to take the lead.
13 years later, that same Harry Potter-looking kid is now living in Ottawa and was nearly brought to tears watching that same Canadian icon score against New Zealand during Canada Soccer’s ‘Celebration Tour’ series in Montreal and Ottawa. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the wake of a stunning shootout victory over Sweden at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the squad was brought home to play in front of thousands of adoring fans to celebrate their momentous triumph half a world away.
I wish I had come to appreciate your game, women’s soccer, earlier in life. I wish that I had understood what it meant to come from the same country as you. And man do I wish that I knew you were amongst the leading international goal-scorers – later to become the leading scorer – when I was a kid.
But I am glad I did come to admire and deify you when I did because you are worthy of every medal, trophy, and word of praise. Hell, your retirement message left me weepy once again, this time it was while I was at work.
You represent the best of Canada as you were a role model on and off the pitch. She put it best in a letter written to a 16 year-old Christine in which she remembers of the days where her and her teammates played for $10/day in front of two-to-three thousand fans at most at college football fields. You led strikes against team funding disputes with the CSA. You spoke out against mistreatment and personal attacks from the national body against your team. And now, you’re one of the faces of a professional women’s soccer league coming to Canada.
As writes the CBC’s Shireen Ahmed:
“Her face is synonymous with … her fight against inequity in Canada Soccer. Her bright green eyes are not only focused on the pitch but on the legacy off of it… We know that her humility and her dedication to the growth of the women’s game will not only impact soccer in Canada for generations to come, but that her effect in other parts of the women’s soccer ecosystem remains pronounced.”
You hinted that you have one more season in you at the club level, and good on you! Keep kicking butt in Portland and bring PDX another NWSL championship.
And I know, like we all do, that this will be far from the last we hear from Canada’s ‘Captain Everything’. whether it be with Project Eight’s league, the player’s association representing your former teammates, or – as is the dream of every Canadian footy fan – with Canada Soccer to have you to clean up their mess, you will keep changing lives, fighting for girls in sport, and inspiring Canadians everywhere.