Every great story has an ending and for Christine Sinclair, that story with the Canadian Women’s National Team has concluded.
The stage was set for Sinclair’s final game for Canada. It was in Vancouver which is very close to her hometown, Burnaby. BC Place was temporarily renamed Christine Sinclair Place for Tuesday, December 5, 2023. The crowd was buzzing before the game against Australia began. And it was the largest crowd at BC Place for a sporting event in years.
190 international goals were scored by Sinclair. No one has scored more. I’m not sure anyone will surpass that number.
Sinclair made her debut for Canada on March 12, 2000. (This author was only a week old then.) Imagine going back in time and telling that 16-year-old girl she would be the face of soccer in Canada. Two days later, she scored her first international goal.
23 years later, her illustrious career has come to an end. The 40-year-old has played in six World Cups and has won two Olympic bronze medals and one gold.
But there was one final game for her to play.
It was clear Canada has improved since they crashed out of the World Cup last summer.
They looked better defensively and more dynamic in the midfield. However, the final third could’ve been better.
The only goal of the game came from Quinn. They managed to put in the rebound after Kadeisha Buchanan’s header hit the crossbar. Sinclair won’t get an assist on Quinn’s goal but it wouldn’t have happened without her.
But as great as Sinclair is, she always liked to have her teammates shine in the spotlight. That’s what happened on Saturday night. Aside from the goal, Quinn looked great. They were all over the ball and made some good reads and passes.
Jesse Fleming showed her importance for Canada in the midfield. She was being creative utilizing her vision and passes. Cloé Lacasse looked dangerous down the left side. She and Nichelle Prince looked primed to score but again, it was hard for Canada to find space against Australia in the final third and there were too many passes
As for Sinclair, it was mostly a quiet game for her offensively. But it was easy to see the hunger was still there and that hunger to win shone brightly for 23 years.
But there must have been a lot of dust at Christine Sinclair Place as she was subbed off for Sophie Schmidt. (who was also playing her final game for Canada which should not be forgotten) Eyes were watery in the stadium and across the country.
Sinclair handed the captain’s armband off to Schmidt with a smile. It felt like the entire stadium was going to stand on their seats and yell: “Oh captain, my captain!” It was a surreal and emotional sight to watch. It was one last ride for two Canadian soccer legends. With Sinclair being from Burnaby and Schmidt hailing from Abbotsford, their final game for Canada was in Vancouver which was very fitting.
Canada looked good defensively for the most part but the Australians looked threatening on the transitions. But the Matildas did not have a single shot on target. Vannessa Gilles, Kadeisha Buchanan (who deserves more minutes for Chelsea) and Jade Rose (a name to watch for the future) did a good job as a back three.
It wasn’t the most exciting game but it wasn’t boring either. It hasn’t sunk in yet. Sinclair’s international career is over. Just typing those words doesn’t feel right. But all good things must come to an end.
“A lot of love, a lot of support, obviously enjoying the victory… that was my one ask of the team, that Sophie and I end our career with a W,” said Sinclair after the game per CBC Sports’ Ben Steiner.
“It was her turn to have the moment because this is for her too,” she said when asked about handing the armband to Schmidt.
Even after her final game for Canada, she was still humble. After all, Sinclair was always about the team first and herself second.
A GOAT’s Farewell and Her Impact
When Sinclair first stepped onto the pitch for Canada in 2000, soccer was an afterthought in the country.
Hockey was and still is the number one sport in Canada. When Sinclair was growing up, baseball was catching on. After all, the reason why she wears number 12 is because she looked up to baseball Hall Of Famer and former Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Roberto Alomar.
Now the number 12 is synonymous with her in Canada. Sinclair made the number her own and many young girls across the country wear number 12 and play soccer because they idolize her.
Sinclair put soccer on the map in Canada. She inspired generations of players and fans.
It is hard to put into words the impact she has had. It cannot be described in a sentence, paragraph or even in a long-form essay.
There are so many memories of Sinclair. There were so many goals and great moments. For me personally, the free-kick goal against Germany in the 2011 World Cup stands out. It was because that was my first exposure to her and women’s soccer. I remember seeing the goal being replayed over and over on the Sportscentre. My 11-year-old self thought (and still thinks) that goal was amazing. It was a curling shot over the wall and the German goalkeeper couldn’t reach it. What was even more impressive was that Sinclair broke her nose earlier in the game and she refused to come off and scored that free kick.
Canada lost that game and all three of their group-stage games in the 2011 World Cup. But my interest in Sinclair and the Canadian women’s soccer team started.
At the 2012 Olympics, it reached newer heights as I watched Sinclair score a hat trick against the US in a game played at Old Trafford. I was very upset that Canada lost that game (in part thanks to some poor officiating) but from that point on, I was a Canadian soccer fan and a Christine Sinclair fan.
Sinclair is without a doubt the greatest soccer player Canada has ever known. Many athletes have had the acronym GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) labelled on them and Sinclair deserves to be one of them.
Her impact on the pitch will be felt for many years to come. She and Schmidt now pass the torch to the next generation. That includes the likes of Fleming, Prince, Jordyn Huitema and Simi Awujo. Sinclair has impacted the careers of the Canadian women’s national team players past, present and future.
Off the pitch, Sinclair led the fight for equal pay and better treatment of the women’s team against Canada Soccer and she will surely continue to do so. She doesn’t say much but when she does, the country listens.
What’s next for Sinclair? Well, she will play one more season with the NWSL Portland Thorns. After that, only she knows. Coaching? A front office role? We shall see.
There was a sign seen on the broadcast on Tuesday night and also one on Friday night in Langford that said: “Thank you is not enough.”
It’s true. Given the 190 goals, 331 appearances and countless memories, saying thank you is putting it lightly.
She is the GOAT.
She is one of the greatest athletes in Canadian history
She is the hero of many young girls
She left an impact on the game of soccer that will be felt for generations.
She is Christine Sinclair, a name that will forever be remembered and a name many will have fond memories of.
Thank you really isn’t enough. She was just the best. She was always great to watch.
I’m going to say it anyway: Thank You, Christine.