Nothing will excite the crowds in Canada more this August than the sight of a young Canadian star scoring goals in what is the most prestigious football tournament ever staged in the country. For just such a player, look no further than 19-year-old Christine Sinclair.
The striker hails from British Columbia, the province that has two of the three venues for the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship Canada 2002. So the crowds have an extra reason for cheering on the woman who is tipped by many to become the most successful Canadian women’s footballer of all time.
Stars of the WUSA (Women’s United Soccer Association, based in America), Charmaine Hooper and Silvana Burtini, have already blazed a trail for Canadian soccer. And, the signs are that Sinclair could surpass their achievements while she is still a teenager.
Indeed, Canada’s U-19 women’s coach Ian Bridge says, “She definitely has the potential to be the greatest player this country has ever produced.”
Sinclair plays for the Vancouver Breakers in the North American W-League, and helped them reach the championship final in their inaugural season in 2001. She sees little action at club level, though, because international commitments make so many demands on her.
So far, Sinclair has not played for her country at U-19 level. She has instead been leading the line for the senior women’s team coached by Even Pellerud. Her total of 25 goals from just 34 appearances already have her third on the all-time scoring list for her country, and with by far the best goals-to-game ratio.
If doubters needed any proof of her form this year, she gave it the day before the draw was made for the groups at the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship when she scored all five goals in the Breakers’ 5-0 win against Albuquerque in the W-League.
Making her senior international debut at the age of 16, she led Canada in scoring at the Algarve Cup in her first tournament. Earlier this year she again starred in the Algarve in wins against Scotland, Wales and Portugal.
While at college in the US, she finished third in the NCAA scoring lists as she led the University of Portland to the national semi-finals. Named NCAA Freshman of the Year by both Soccer America Magazine and Soccer Buzz, she scored 23 goals and provided eight assists.
She is not a selfish player, and has played well with the senior squad whether they play a 4-4-2 formation, with three up front or use her as an attacking midfielder.
Canada’s U-19 women’s coach Ian Bridge is hugely impressed by Sinclair. “She’s an excellent finisher,” he said. “If she has a chance in front of goal or from a breakaway she will score.
“She’s fast, strong, scores goals with both feet and is strong in the air.”
The fact that Sinclair has no experience with Bridge’s squad competitively is not a problem, the coach maintains. “All our teams play exactly the same tactics, so there is no adjustment to be made when players go from one age group to another. Also, Christine is used to playing with a number of the girls who she is now joining in the U-19 squad. Eight of this squad were out in the Algarve in March, playing for the senior team.”
If Canada decide to play with three attackers, Sinclair will partner Kara Lang and Candice Chapman, who have both also featured in the senior squad. They have a good understanding of each other’s strengths, and they are sure to give opposition defences plenty of headaches on their home soil.