Christine Sinclair’s lasting impact on Canada and women’s sports

B.C. declares Dec. 12 as Christine Sinclair Day following the soccer legend’s retirement

While the soccer legend Christine Sinclair is retiring from International soccer, she'll continue to play in the National Women's Soccer League for the Portland Thorns. (Flickr/Ray Terrill)

While the soccer legend Christine Sinclair is retiring from International soccer, she’ll continue to play in the National Women’s Soccer League for the Portland Thorns. (Flickr/Ray Terrill)

Christine Sinclair has officially announced her retirement from international soccer after a 23-year career.

Following her final game, the Government of British Columbia announced Dec. 12 as Christine Sinclair day, in honor of her number 12 jersey.

After her retirement announcement, she played her final game at the BC Place Stadium, re-named Christine Sinclair Place for the day, with Canada defeating Australia 1-0. Over 54,000 fans attended the game, the third highest attendance of any game at the stadium this year.

This is a great gesture to signify one of the best soccer players and Canadian athletes of all-time. 

Sinclair has scored 190 goals for Canada which is the most by any player — man or woman —  in the sports’ history.

She played in six World Cups and is one of three players to score in five of them, joining Brazil’s Marta Vieira da Silva and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

In 2021, Sinclair led the women’s national team to a gold medal at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. It was the program’s first ever gold after two bronze medals in London and Rio De Janeiro in 2012 and 2016 respectively.

She is a 14-time Canadian Soccer Player of the Year winner and has made 331 appearances for Canada, the second most in soccer history. At club level, Sinclair has won the National Women’s Soccer League championship three times, scoring 68 goals in 180 appearances. 

While Sinclair has etched her name in the history books, she has also become an icon for children and athletes across the globe.

Personally, this is a wonderful touch for not only a player but a person who has transformed Canadian sports since the minute she arrived. Before Sinclair made her national team debut, Canada had only been to two World Cups and had never made an appearance at the Olympics. When Sinclair retired, Canada had eight World Cup appearances and three Olympic medals.

Declaring a day like this is something that is so easy to do, but is rarely done for women’s sports.

If it were to start with someone, it might as well be with the greatest soccer player in the country’s history. This sets a precedent that women’s sports are appreciated and women can be celebrated. 

Growing up in Burnaby, Sinclair went on to defy odds and complete something seen as impossible. Naming a day after her puts an emphasis on her hard work and sacrifice, providing a pathway for other young girls and athletes to do the same, no matter where they come from.

I would like to see an athlete as influential as Sinclair be memorialized with a statue or a trophy named after her. It would be great to have a physical reminder of her contribution to the sport, and it would be much more fitting to honor her further than just a day on the calendar.

I don’t think many would reject this celebration, but I think many would agree a legend like Sinclair deserves a bigger tribute than a simple yearly occurrence. A yearly tournament could be created with a trophy handed out on Dec. 12.

The only glaring con about this day is that just B.C. has declared it. With Sinclair being a Canadian icon, this day should be Canada-wide. She didn’t win gold for B.C. and she didn’t take B.C. to the World Cup. She took the whole of Canada.

With Sinclair’s playing career winding down, I think it’s great she’s being honored and celebrated. As she receives recognition, the new generation can look on, knowing their dreams are achievable.