Famously described by others as fiercely private, and by herself as shy and awkward, Christine Sinclair knows when it’s time to use her voice.
The 40-year-old all-time international goal scoring leader spoke to hosts Meghan Klingenberg and Eric Alvarez on the NBC and Telemundo podcast “My New Favorite Futbolista” in the lead up to her sixth World Cup.
There, Sinclair told the story of her mother Sandra, who was her first soccer coach as a child. After hiding a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) from her kids for over ten years, her mother opened up to her kids (including son Mike) when Christine was around twelve years old. As described by Sinclair, her mother’s “gait became more rigid – kind of more like robotic,” and even at that young age, she knew something was up.
While she prefers to stay private in most areas of her life, and instead let her play on the field do the talking, Canada’s captain has been working to raise awareness for the neurological disease for years. “I think MS is a disease a lot of the time that people suffer through in silence and suffer with in silence,” said Sinclair. “People have heard of MS, but they don’t really know what it is. So for me, I just want people to know that they’re not alone.”
Since 2017, Sinclair has been the face of A&W Canada’s “Burgers to Beat MS” campaign, which raised $1.4 million in 2021 for the MS Society of Canada. That number climbed to $1.8 million in 2022.
Sandra passed away in 2022, but Sinclair’s work raising awareness – and funds – will continue on: “I just felt with where the women’s national team is, our status sort of here in Canada – I think I could help make a difference. And it’s something very important to me…it’s been one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.”
Recently, with Canada’s women’s national team locked in a labor battle with their own federation, Sinclair has also used her voice to fight for gender equality for her team. This included addressing the Heritage Committee of Canada’s Members of Parliament in March of this year, along with teammates Sophie Schmidt, Janine Beckie, and Quinn.
“It’s about equal treatment,” Sinclair said. “It’s about equal opportunities, equal resources, and honestly until that happens, yeah we’re going to be at a stalemate.”
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