By Grant Granger
The night of their 2-1 quarter-final loss to the United States at the Summer Olympics in Beijing in August, the Canadian women's soccer team gathered. They all agreed it was an amazing ride they'd been on being the first Canadian team to qualify for the Olympics. They took some solace in losing to the eventual gold medal champions in overtime. But they were also bitter and were setting their sights on 2012 in London.
"Right away we were talking about [next Olympics]," said Burnaby's Christine Sinclair in a conference call Thursday after being named Canadian Soccer Association female player of the year.
Although she's only 25, Sinclair has accomplished a lot on the soccer pitch. She's scored more goals, 95, than any other woman to ever pull on a Canadian jersey. She's also won NCAA titles with the University of Portland and W-League titles with the Vancouver Whitecaps. Despite all that she still ambitious about her career.
Besides the unfinished business of improving Canada's showings at the Olympics and the women's World Cup, Sinclair is excited about playing in the new Women's Professional Soccer league for the Bay Area's FC Gold Pride.
"It's a great opportunity for not only myself but for the sport all over the world to have some of the best players in the world playing in one league," Sinclair said.
"This is an excellent opportunity to grow the sport. Personally, I just hope it's run right and in the correct way so we can see this league succeed and continue for years to come."
The WPS is part-owned by two Victoria prodigies, former Yahoo! president Jeff Mallett and Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash. The league comes on the heels of the Women's United Soccer Association which folded in 2003 after three seasons.
"I'm just looking forward to playing. I haven't put any expectation on myself. I'm just ready to get back into a club environment. I haven't really had one since the Whitecaps and back at university," said Sinclair. "The national team has been in residency for the last couple of years and that's been a lot of training and not too many games. It will be good to get a couple of games every weekend."
Training begins March 1 with the first games in April. This winter she's been going across Canada doing CSA clinics.
"I want to really get involved in helping promote the sport in Canada, to help the young girls develop the sport so our country can continue to improve not only in the immediate future but in the years down the road," said Sinclair.
In 2008, Sinclair not only captained Canada to an "absolutely huge" victory over Mexico to qualify for the Olympics, but she scored 13 goals in 22 national team games.
"It's a huge honour," said Sinclair of the award. "There are so many tremendous female soccer players in Canada. I am so grateful."