How do you measure what Christine Sinclair has meant to an entire country?
Sinclair’s resume includes 190 international goals, three Olympic medals, one Pan-American gold medal, 14 Canadian Player of the Year awards, being named a 10-time finalist for FIFA Player of the Year, and an Order of Canada, which is bestowed upon “people who make extraordinary contributions to the nation.”
Since making her Canadian women’s national team debut as a 16-year-old in March of 2000, Sinclair has worn her heart on her sleeve representing her country for 24 years. 327 appearances and 190 international goals later, she is still the face of soccer in Canada.
But on December 5th, Sinclair will lace up her boots on the international stage for one last time to take on Australia at BC Place in Vancouver. The team that knocked Les Rouges out of the 2023 World Cup will help close out the storybook career of the all-time international leading goal scorer.
As Canada gets set to defend their Olympic gold medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics, Sinclair knew that the timing was right to step away from the international game and move on to a new chapter in life.
“After Tokyo, deep down inside, I knew I didn’t want to play in Paris,” Sinclair told Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press. “The way the Tokyo Olympics ended, you can’t beat it.”
“I wanted to give it one more shot for the World Cup,” she added. “I really thought we could be successful there and we hadn’t been successful in a long time at World Cups.”
Sinclair has carried the weight of an entire nation on her shoulders through six World Cups and four Olympic tournaments. She has played in front of crowds with just family and friends in attendance and she has played in front of crowds of 50,000 screaming fans.
Whether it was scoring a hat trick in a semifinal loss to the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics, or leading Canada to their first Olympic gold medal at the 2020 Olympics, Sinclair has lived the ups and downs of representing Canada on the World’s stage.
These are just some of the accomplishments that make Sinclair one of the greatest professional athletes to play any sport in Canada, but she is much more than that.
The Burnaby, B.C., native has always been an inspiration to soccer players in Canada. Ashley Lawrence, Kadeisha Buchanan, Kailen Sheridan, Jessie Fleming, Jordyn Huitema and Julia Grosso are part of a long list of players that grew up watching Sinclair compete. They are all part of Canada’s core group of players.
It wasn’t long ago that those young athletes were called up to their first Canadian national team camp and experienced the opportunity to train alongside Sinclair. They are now proud to call the Canadian icon a teammate and a friend.
And while the 40-year-old prefers to stay out of the spotlight – instead doing her talking on the pitch in the form of a clinical goal, or a sublime free kick – she is also an advocate, ambassador, and author.
Sinclair’s legacy is reflected by the impact she has made off the pitch to better the sport for the next generation of Canadian athletes. This was never more evident than when she spoke in front of The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage earlier this year in Ottawa. When Sinclair has something to say, you better be listening, because you know it’s going to be meaningful and from the heart.
Since 2017, Sinclair has also been the face of A&W Canada’s “Burgers to Beat MS” campaign, which raised $1.8 million in 2022 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.
Sinclair’s mother Sandra passed away from the neurological disease in 2022, but Sinclair’s work raising awareness – and funds – continues 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,” she said on the My New Favorite Futbolista podcast. “And it’s something very important to me…it’s been one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.”
It’s impossible to measure what Christine Sinclair means to Canada, because she’s so much more than you would expect from a professional athlete.
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