Christine Sinclair: Canada’s greatest soccer ambassador
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
Although she appears shy on camera, she conveys a sense of humbleness, grace and dignity when being interviewed. These attributes make Sinclair the perfect ambassador for the women’s game.
To some, Christine Sinclair is the embodiment of modesty and class. She is the all-time leading international goal scorer in soccer history (both men and women)—scoring 187 goals in 304 matches for Canada.
Sinclair’s soccer resume is impressive. She has been a veteran player for the Canadian women’s national team since 2000. She has three Olympic medals: bronze in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, followed by gold in the Tokyo 2020 games. Sinclair has played in five FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments; including leading Canada to the quarterfinals in 2015, when the tournament was held in Vancouver (Canada lost to England by a score of 2 to 1). In January 2018, Sinclair was named an Officer to the Order of Canada.
But with all her greatness and achievements on the soccer pitch, she enjoys the media spotlight about as much as seeing an opposing defender stopping her on a close-in scoring chance. Yet, Sinclair does the interviews without ostentation. Although she appears shy on camera, she conveys a sense of humbleness, grace and dignity when being interviewed. These attributes make Sinclair the perfect ambassador for the women’s game. She is also a fitting role model for young women who dream of following in her footsteps.
After Canada clinched the gold medal over Sweden in the 2020 games, Sinclair took the opportunity to address the issue of inequality in women’s soccer. Notably the fact that Canada does not have a women’s professional soccer league. “We’ve been saying it for a long time,” Sinclair said to the media via Zoom. “We’re hoping that this platform will give us the opportunity to start that change and plead to Canadians that have the ability to make the difference to invest in women. The young little kids, they deserve to be able to go watch their heroes on a week-to-week basis and not [just] every four years. That’s the next goal, to get professional soccer in Canada.” For Sinclair, this lack of Canadian opportunity has meant playing for the Portland Thorns FC of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
In Sinclair’s hometown of Burnaby, BC, the city has chosen to honour her by renaming the Kensington Avenue community centre after her (formerly the Fortius Sport & Health complex). After Canadas’ 2020 gold medal, the city’s workshop created a giant gold medal and hung it on the side of the building.
Burnaby Mayor, Mike Hurley, stated in a news release after Canada’s win over Sweden that honouring Sinclair was the appropriate action to take: “Coming into this Olympic tournament, Christine Sinclair was widely regarded as the greatest women’s soccer player in history. With this result, there is no doubt. Christine not only serves as the leader on her team—she is a wonderful role model and ambassador for Burnaby on the world’s stage, and we were all so proud to see her and the rest of Team Canada enjoy so much success at the 2020 Olympic Games.”
Off the soccer pitch, Sinclair is involved with a charity that is a very personal one. In August, she participated in the 13th annual Burgers to Beat MS campaign with A&W Canada; it was the fifth year Sinclair has been involved. Sinclair’s mother, Sandi, lives with MS. “Even when I was told that it never sunk in,” Sinclair said in a video to promote the Burgers to Beat MS fundraiser. “I had no idea what the disease was.” She recalled her mother during a summer holiday at their cabin unexpectedly being unable to get up on water skis. “I just remember it being hard to see your hero slowly break down,” she said.
A&W donates $2 from every Teen Burger® sold via dine-in, take out, and drive-thru at select restaurants as well as through the A&W mobile app and third-party delivery partners across Canada. The proceeds go to the MS Society of Canada to help people living with multiple sclerosis (MS).
In a July press release from A&W Food Services of Canada, Inc., Sinclair restated the importance of the Burgers to Beat MS event: “Coming from a family that has been impacted by MS, I know first-hand the daily toll this can take on someone living with the disease, and why this fundraising initiative is so important. Together, we can make a difference for people, like my mom, who [lives] with MS and who need support now!”