MOSCATO: A salute to a friend and legend, Christine Sinclair

Post-game coverage (video above) provided by OneSoccer.

Two days after Canada was eliminated from the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup following a 2-1 loss to England, I walked the streets of Vancouver, soaking in the energy of the city that has been ignited by the world’s game.

I was alone, in my street clothes and hair down, and in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to be just anonymous. I was carrying a personal and collective disappointment from being eliminated in a home World Cup.

Being the host nation was always going to come with an enormous amount of expectation and pressure to perform, to entertain, and to win. We had fallen short of our goal to play and inspire our way to a World Cup Final at BC Place, playing in a stadium lit up in red, and for that one moment in time we wanted to be the heartbeat of all the Canadians that believed in us.

Being a professional athlete, whether it be on a team or individually, comes with an intense narrow focus of goals, and the ones who make it, that really make it, never let anything wedge itself in the way. It was that narrow perspective and set of “self-centered” feelings about what had just transpired that had me look down at my feet, not fully present with the world around me for a majority of that day.

We had given everything we had and given everything up to achieve history together and we fell short. So, as I finally lifted my head that day, and engaged all my senses, the first thing I noticed were Christine Sinclair jerseys all around me. There were men, women, boys and girls, plus one dog (not a joke) wearing them. My eyes immediately welled up and I got it.

Christine Sinclair, and our entire team, was so much more than one result, one loss.

RELATED READING: Sinclair breaks goals record in CanWNT’s Olympic qualifying win

The Canadian women’s team, up until that 2015 World Cup, had been in large part made up of the same core of players since 2002. That group of women are some of the most resilient I know – household names such as Rhian Wilkinson, Melissa Tancredi, Diana Matheson and Robyn Gayle, only to name a few. We were, then, and are still led, by our captain and natural born leader, Sinclair. Through all the ups and downs of our storied journey, we managed to etch our place in the hearts, minds and imagination of the nation, but no one more than Sinclair.

From the first day that Christine put on the Canadian jersey in an Algarve Cup on March 12, 2000, she turned heads and made people believe in Canadians. It was her ability to be in the right place at the right time and score some of the most iconic and important goals for our country that we all admire. But as Canadian coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller recently said, “she is so much more than that.” I couldn’t agree more.

Christine Sinclair is a Canadian sporting icon, and likely in most Canadian’s top five list of most influential athletes. These lists likely include prominent figures such as Wayne Gretzky, Silken Laumann, Sidney Crosby, Terry Fox, plus a few more. The people on these lists have a way of transcending sport and showing people that anything is possible. By doing so, they have allowed us to believe that there is so much more in our human potential and purpose.

I would be remiss not to bring to light Sinclair’s performance in the 2012 Olympic semifinals versus the United States. Having had the honour of taking the field with her that day, I can tell you that what she did felt super-human, as a fan, and as a teammate. The level of focus and resilience it took to score a hat-trick in a game of that magnitude, in a historical stadium (Old Trafford), against the world’s undisputed number one team is, to this day, unfathomable. That day, I fully understood the potency of human determination. She stood on guard for Canada, like she has every single minute she has, and will continue to, take the field for her country.

To those who are lucky enough to know her personally, like myself, will know she is a hilarious, quirky, hardworking, and a consummate professional. One of the most beautiful aspects of her make up is her ruthless dedication to her family. She so obviously plays for them, and the people she holds closest to her heart. She is fiercely loyal and protects the people and things that mean most to her.

I will leave it to other people covering this momentous, record-breaking moment, to talk about her accomplishments, past goals and unforgettable moments. I, so very intentionally, wanted to shed light on the fact that, to me, she is exactly where she needs to be: gaining global recognition and acknowledgement for a career that men and women can only dream of – but she is so much more than the record.

Seeing the streets of Vancouver sprinkled with Sinclair jerseys that day, made me realize, we are not what we do, but rather how we do it.

Thank you for everything, Christine.

Carmelina Moscato scored two goals in 94 appearances for the Canadian women’s team from 2002 to 2015, helping the Reds win an Olympic bronze medal in 2012. Today, Moscato serves as Commissioner of League1 Ontario Women’s Division, as well as Manager of Women’s Professional Football Development for Canadian Soccer Business (CSB).