15-year-old Olivia Smith makes history as youngest to play for Canadian women’s soccer team

While Canada waits for Christine Sinclair to eclipse the international goal-scoring mark, it was another noteworthy record to fall at the China Four Nations tournament Thursday. 

Midfielder Olivia Smith, aged 15 and 94 days, became the youngest Canadian soccer player to debut with the national team when she came on as a substitute for Jordyn Huitema in the 86th minute of a 4-0 loss to Brazil in the tournament opener.

The mark was previously held by Kara Lang, who was 15 and 130 days when she made her debut on March 1, 2002. Jessie Fleming and Huitema were also 15 when they played their first games with the national side.

Smith started playing soccer at five in Whitby, Ont. She was 12 when she made her debut in the Canadian youth program in 2017 and represented Canada at the 2018 CONCACAF girls’ under-15 championship. She has also attended four under-17 camps.

Head coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller tried to take some positives out of the loss.

“We didn’t have a bad performance,” Heiner-Møller told canadasoccer.com. “We definitely made some mistakes that we shouldn’t be making [but] this match was important for us to assess players ahead of the CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying tournament.

“It was good to see some of our players up against a team with some of the best players in the world.”

Canada featured 17 different players in the loss ahead of the Olympic qualifiers, which run Jan. 28 to Feb. 9 in the U.S, with the two finalists qualifying for Tokyo.

Canada, ranked seventh in the world, will now face the loser between host China or New Zealand on Sunday and it will be the next opportunity for Sinclair in pursuit of Abby Wambach’s record of 184 international goals. 

Sinclair came into China with 182 international goals after notching just one at the FIFA World Cup in France.

If the Burnaby, BC., native is unable to notch a hat trick on Sunday, CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers will be her next opportunity to surpass Wambach, where Canada will be joined by No. 1-ranked U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama, Haiti, and St. Kitts and Nevis.

Read more at CBC.ca