'Caps for Canada: Christine Sinclair

Canadian icon returns to origins, yearns for international glory

Beginning Thursday, BC Place will be host to the 2012 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament. For many players on the Canadian team, this won’t be the first time playing in front of fans in Vancouver, as the squad includes 14 former members of Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Over the past two weeks, whitecapsfc.com has profiled each of these players as we get set to support our fantastic Canadian women!

To many she’s Captain Canada, to teammates she’s Sincy, and to young fans everywhere, she’s simply hero. When it comes to women’s soccer in this country, no name resonates more than Christine Sinclair. However, while the attention is certainly warranted, it’s not always wanted. On the field, Sinclair is the fiercest of competitors, but off it, she is one of the humblest.

Sinclair was destined to be a soccer star from the time she was born. She rose through the provincial ranks and was tagged as 'one to watch' when she made the BC Soccer U-14 Girls Provincial Team at age 11. She went on to lead her club teams to six league titles, five provincial titles, and two top-five national finishes. Burnaby South Secondary also became a benefactor of Sinclair’s talents, as she went on to lead her high school team to three league titles during her five years there.

Upon completion of high school, Sinclair accepted a scholarship to the University of Portland, and the accolades continued to pile up. She garnered the coveted title of Freshman of the Year from Soccer America, and was a consensus All-American. Sinclair then went on to capture back-to-back MAC Hermann trophies for being the top collegiate female soccer player in the NCAA.

The individual awards have never mattered to Sinclair, though. So naturally, her proudest accomplishment at the University of Portland was leading her team to two NCAA titles, in 2002 and 2005.

The Burnaby, BC, native has won wherever she’s played. She won while playing for her hometown Whitecaps FC, bringing home the 2006 W-League title at Swangard stadium. She’s also ended her season on top in each of her last two years in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), hoisting the championship trophy with FC Gold Pride in 2010, and then repeating the feat with Western New York Flash in 2011.

Despite her busy club season, Sinclair has always had time to answer the call for her country. The humble Canadian has now blossomed into the international soccer superstar that we all knew she would become. Since 2000, she has appeared in 167 games for the red and white, while at the same time scoring an astonishing 120 goals. She is one of Canada’s most experience players, competing in three World Cups in 2003, 2007 and 2011, and one Olympic Games in 2008. Her incredible play has made her the reigning seven-time Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) Women’s Player of the Year.

One of the very best women’s players in the world without question, Sinclair has had the honour of being nominated by FIFA four times for World Player of the Year in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. She has also been captain of the Canadian women’s national team for the past several years. Her leadership on and off the pitch was demonstrated no better than at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, where she played all three of Canada's games with a broken nose.

For all her accomplishments, she still yearns to get Canada an elusive major international title – be it World Cup or Olympic glory. She was on the 2002 U-19 team that so nearly won gold on home soil, but alas, that was the one that got away.

"As a team, we need to win something," said Sinclair. "It's the result that matters. We have to get there, and that's our focus."

That next shot at “something” is the 2012 London Olympics, but to get there they’ll have to navigate through a tricky CONCACAF qualification tournament.

For Sinclair, this represents an opportunity to return home. This is where her legacy first began, on the soccer fields of the Lower Mainland, long before she became a Canadian icon.

"I'm right where I need to be, and should be, for this tournament,” said Sinclair. “Once the whistle blows, we just go and play."

And playing is what Sinclair does best.

For more details on how to purchase tickets, please visit the CanadaSoccer.com CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying tournament information page.