Christine Sinclair, Soccer Legend and Leader

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Soccer star, Christine Sinclair (39), certainly doesn’t enjoy the public eye—but when she shows up with her passion for her sport, and her passion for what she cares about, there’s no way to avoid noticing her. Sinclair has amassed dozens of awards and nominations since she started playing soccer from the young age of four. 

Being named Canadian Player of the Year every year for a decade straight earned Sinclair her place on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2013. The decision to induct Sinclair came shortly after she led the Canadian woman’s soccer team to a bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympic Summer Games, a feat she would repeat in Rio 2016 before securing gold in Tokyo 2020. Between these victories, she was picking up seven FIFA World Player of the Year nominations between 2005 and 2016.

Born in Burnaby, British Columbia on June 12, 1983, Sinclair was surrounded by soccer players who’d have their influence on her path in life. Her father Bill played soccer in university and participated in the amateur Pacific Coast Soccer League as a player with the New Westminster Blues. Two of Sinclair’s uncles played soccer from amateur to professional levels.

Sinclair was quickly inspired to try soccer herself and since then hasn’t stopped. At four years old, she joined the South Burnaby Metro Club under-seven team. Eventually, at 11, she moved on to British Columbia’s under-14 all-star team. From there, she was playing soccer with the Burnaby South Secondary School’s team.

After making a name for herself through club and school soccer, Sinclair, at only 16 years old, was invited to train at Team Canada’s training camp in January 2000. Her practicing paid off and she played her first major game with the senior team at the 2000 Algarve Cup in Portugal. The three goals she scored led to her first Canadian Player of the Year nod.

Before the age of 18, she would score 15 goals in 18 international games. She’s continued playing to win since her arrival on the scene in 2000. Twenty-three years later, her goals scored count has risen to 190 in 323 matches. Sinclair has undoubtedly become a formidable force in Canadian soccer, being labelled as the most successful soccer player to ever show up for Canada’s teams.

Additionally, Sinclair holds a degree in Life Science from the University of Portland in Portland Oregon, where she studied and played soccer between 2001 and 2005. As a freshman, she scored 23 goals in 24 games with the Portland Pilots.

She continues her link with Portland, playing with the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), on top of her duties as captain of Canada’s national team.

Sinclair’s passion for soccer is clear, and she’s been rewarded greatly for it, but her passionate nature continues off the field too. Aside from being an advocate for gender equality, Sinclair is highly involved in fundraising efforts to combat Multiple Sclerosis (MS). She has given over a decade of her time and energy to the MS Society of Canada, trying to fight the disease that her mother was diagnosed with some 40 years ago.

Recently, Sinclair took on another battle. With three of her teammates by her side—Janine Beckie, Sophie Schmidt, and Quinn—Sinclair has stepped in front of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to demand better labour practices, more transparency, and less misogynistic leadership from Canada Soccer, the country’s national federation for the sport. Her and her teammates are “exhausted and deflated” from the dispute, but not ready to give up yet.

Sinclair stands alone in her legendary status, enough so to be granted title of Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017. It’s an accomplishment she appreciates, but had to take a minute to process. When she’s dominating the soccer field, she’s aware it comes with the territory. Winning is part of the job, and she’s come to terms with the idea of beating her soccer opponents. 

Being recognized by the country she loves, though, is something out of her ordinary and special. “I am a very, very proud Canadian,” she said upon being recognized as Officer of the Order of Canada. “…to have your country recognize you, I don’t even know what to say.”

Sinclair defaults to staying ever humble about her power, even though nobody else could deny she has a lot of it. When asked about her leadership style by Canadian Business, she answered, “I joke that all I do is do the coin toss at the start of the game and wear an arm band. But, really, on this team we have a bunch of leaders. Everyone leads in their own way. I’m a quieter type of leader. I’ll do anything for my team, and I’ll speak up when needed, but I tend to lead more by example.”

Luke Miles | Staff Writer

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