After competing in four Olympics, B.C.-born soccer champion Christine Sinclair is set to play her first final on Friday morning, inspiring girls and women all over the country.
Friday’s gold medal game will be Sinclair’s 303rd international game (or “cap”), making her one of the most-capped soccer players of all time.
Sinclair, who is from Burnaby, is also the world’s all-time leader for international goals with 187, more than any male or female player.
She is known as one of the most decorated Olympians Canada has ever seen.
But according to Sinclair’s former coach and teammate, it’s not just her humble leadership of the team about to fight for a gold medal, that makes her special.
Sinclair is “trying to be a good human being while performing at the best of their ability,” Andrea Neil told CBC News.
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‘Simple enjoyment for the game’
Neil says what stood out from the moment she first met Sinclair, then 13, was her “simple enjoyment for the game.”
She says she didn’t know at that moment how good Sinclair really was, but she knew she had a skill and unreal qualities that nobody else had.
“She is quiet. She’s unassuming. She’s not trying to grab the spotlight. It’s these intangible qualities of being humble that the world needs more of an example of.”
Carrie Serwetnyk is a former member of the women’s national team and was the first woman inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.
She now runs and coaches her own soccer program for kids in Vancouver, where she teaches them to put their aspirations high.
“I have young female coaches that come out of our program and they have the dream to play on the national team like they are watching [the Olympics] and somewhere in there they feel they can do it,” she said.
Serwetnyk says Sinclair has been a big part of building that dream for young girls and women all over Canada.
“She is the architect for the success in this country, she is such an amazing player.”
For eight-year-old Alissa Wong, Canada’s defeat of the U.S. on Monday was a big step for women in soccer, but she says a gold medal would take it one step further.
“It would tell all the boys, see, we can do whatever and we deserve to play,” she said.
Alissa says Sinclair is her favourite player because she proves that anyone “no matter how big or small” can do whatever they want if they put their mind to it.
Sinclair, along with the rest of Team Canada will compete against Sweden in the gold-medal game, scheduled for 8 a.m. ET in Tokyo at Olympic Stadium.