Christian Sinclair on the state of Canadian soccer and the fight against MS

Christian Sinclair on the state of Canadian soccer and the fight against MS

Perhaps it was sparked by Serena Williams’ farewell tour or visit the captainESPN documentary about Derek Jeter, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the legacies of players. And that’s where my mind went when I spoke to the greatest goal scorer in world soccer history, Olympic gold medalist Christine Sinclair: How the captain of Canada’s women’s national soccer team will be remembered. be kept What legacy does that create?

These are not the questions Sinclair takes up. He rejects the notion that he is a living legend, and legacy is not something he thinks about much. What Sinclair thinks about leadership. And when we connected in mid-August, it was natural where she led our conversation. Sinclair discussed how she hopes to lead Canada towards a better pro path for female athletes. But this important work pales in comparison to her leadership in raising awareness and funds for a cure for multiple sclerosis, a disease her mother has battled for years.

The statistics surrounding MS in this country are both sobering and shocking. Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world as an average of 12 Canadians are diagnosed with MS every day. The disease also disproportionately affects women. 75 percent of people living with MS in Canada are women, and women are three times more likely than men to develop the disease.

I caught up with Sinclair during a break from her training in Portland, where she plays for Thorns FC of the NWSL, to discuss her work. Burgers to beat MS DayA now 10-year initiative in partnership with A&W to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. We also talked about the possibility of a domestic women’s pro league in Canada and the strength of the men’s national team as it prepares to compete in the World Cup.

Sportsnet: This is your sixth year participating in the Burgers to Beat MS initiative. Have you noticed any changes in terms of the access you can get in that time?
Sinclair: It just seems to grow and grow every year. Obviously the COVID year was a bit slow a few years ago. I just feel like there’s more and more awareness around Smashing MS Day and Burgers for MS – and not just in Canada. It’s been great to be a part of that growth, and hopefully I’ve contributed a little bit to it because it’s a cause very close to my heart.

I know you don’t like using the word “legacy”, but have you thought about the fact that it could be attached to your name well after you stop kicking football?
I mean, legacy isn’t something I spend a lot of time thinking about. You can only do what you can do in the field for a long time. And you know, my football gave me a unique voice and a unique opportunity. When I was asked to participate in this, it was a no-brainer. I just asked my mother for permission to tell her story. This is something that, looking back, I will be very proud of. And it will definitely be something I stay a part of for years and years to come.

Was it hard to get your mother’s permission?
no. I mean, it was hard to ask her, just because it’s her story and she’s been through a lot. She suffered through MS in silence. Our family is very private, and I had to ask her permission to share more of her story with the world. She of course said yes. After the first year, she told me she was never proud of me. It meant a lot.

I don’t ask about retirement because I feel like everyone else does. But I’m curious if you’ve thought about the ways you want to influence the game when you stop playing? Have you allowed your mind to go there?
I think about it sometimes. I will definitely be involved in one game or the other. Of course. When I stop playing, I’ll be a fan for a little bit and just enjoy it. But obviously being down here in Portland, I’m not giving up on myself. So I would definitely love to join the Thorns organization and then in Canada – just try to help create a professional environment there. I think this is the next step for soccer in Canada, and I want to at least lend my voice or help in any possible way to bring it about, because it is very necessary.

Serena Williams has avoided using the word “retirement” when discussing her transition to the next phase of her life. Many of the superlatives that can be attributed to her and what she has done for her sport are also applicable to you. What was your reaction to her latest announcement?
She is possibly the greatest female athlete of all time. I think the way she carried herself through this transition, it’s similar to grace. I think this is how it should be done. Many people use the word retirement, and it seems like such an end and very difficult. And so definitely. All athletes go through this and you are just, as she said, developing a new part of your life. See how many successful athletes have very successful careers after the sport. I think sometimes the term retirement, I don’t know for me, I picture some 70-year-old man retiring from a nine-to-five job. Athletes have a lot to give after their sport. I really like the way that Serena turned it into a positive and turned it into, like, there’s so much more. What we do on the field or on the court is only a small part of who we are.

There is more to the women’s national team. After winning the gold at the Olympics, do you feel more motivated as a hunter, not the hunted, or do you still feel like there is a lack of respect, while the national team is in the international rankings? is there
It is difficult to see the world ranking, just in general. They are based on history. It is like your last four years results. There was a time when we were sixth or we would have had to beat the United States eight times in a row to be first. It is so hard and difficult. So, as players, we don’t really look at rankings. I think that as Canadians, we still fight and try to rise, just to respect that. Trying to prove to the world that we won gold was not just one time, you know, we have proven ourselves in the last 10 years. We’re there, and as the women’s game continues to grow, there are now six to eight teams, actually, that have a chance to win these big tournaments. I definitely put us in it, and that’s where the women’s game is right now.

All other teams in this composition have domestic leagues. Last year, we talked about the reality that had to happen in Canada. Do you feel like you are close? Are you feeling more optimistic?
No, unfortunately not. Obviously, there is a conversation. Retired actors start doing some work behind the scenes. I know CSA [Canadian Soccer Association] A person has been recruited for the development of women and girls. But no, no concrete steps have been taken in this regard.

If one looks at the Women’s Under-20 World Cup, Canada has already been eliminated after losing the first two games. And I mean, there are obviously some superstars on this team, don’t get me wrong, and they have a lot to be proud of, but yeah, it’s my concern where our youth national teams are right now. are in place and concerned for me. The future, you know?

They just beat a French team that has a few players who play professionally in Europe – like all their players are at least in a professional environment and growing and developing. And there is no such way in Canada. We do a really good job of developing these top players and keeping them and nurturing them and helping them get to the top. But I feel like we’re losing a big group of players, because we don’t have a place for them to play. They’re in the US collegiate system playing four months a year, which was the way it was 15 years ago, but the game has grown, and countries have grown and professional teams have grown all over the world. And we’ve been through it.

As you watch the men’s national team approach the World Cup, what do you think about why they have found success?
Obviously I’ll be a big fan. I obviously have the full support of our men’s team and John [Herdman, its head coach] and their employees. I think all of their staff worked for the women’s team at one point. I just think the world of John. I think they’re going to go out there and hopefully surprise people. I am not saying they will win the tournament, but I think they will have some good performances. Under John, progress – you’ve seen a change in tactics. There are certain things that you look at and you’re like, “Oh, that’s John.” But I think what you see a lot of is just the brotherhood that they’ve created, the team-first mentality. This was not always the case with the men’s team and the players who sacrificed themselves for the team and the opportunity. And it’s great to watch, because it’s totally John. He did it with our team in London and went from there and you just see his imprint on the culture, I would say, more than anything.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.