Christine Sinclair ‘done’ with ‘male role models’ as the standard in sport

  • Canadian striker Christine Sinclair is the all-time leading female soccer player – male or female – at international goals.
  • The national team captain and Portland Thorns star wants women to be seen as role models in sports.
  • “I’m just done with the fact that there are only male role models and male athletes to look up to,” Sinclair told Insider.

When you think of the greatest soccer players in the world, who comes to mind?

Maybe Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi? Maybe Kylian Mbappe, Neymar or Robert Lewandowski?

Why not Christine Sinclair, who has more international goals – 190 if you count – than Everyone from them?

Christine Sinclair celebrates winning the 2022 NWSL Championship with the Portland Thorns.

Sinclair celebrates winning the 2022 NWSL Championship with the Portland Thorns.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

“I’m just done with the fact that there are only male role models and male athletes to look up to,” the Canada women’s national team captain and Portland Thorns superstar told Insider.

It’s part of the inspiration behind her new memoir, Playing the Long Game. Sinclair, a notoriously private and introverted superstar, makes it clear in the opening pages of her book that “talking about myself has never been something I’ve enjoyed doing.”

However, she recognizes that “if there was ever a right time – an opening to push for change, an opportunity to eradicate the false distinction between women’s and men’s sports – now is the time.”

Christine Sinclair.

Sinclair with Canada’s women’s national team.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

“So I’m talking,” writes Sinclair. “About my career. About what’s at stake. In the hope that a whole new world will open up for the young athletes. Hoping for a different world for my nieces, in sports or outside.”

As she guides the reader through the story of her illustrious football career – growing up, in college, in the pros and on international duty – Sinclair addresses inequalities that have influenced her and her teammates. She mentions that certain things “might be different” if she were “a male soccer player on a big team in Europe”.

But in the final chapter she goes bluntly into the discussion of “the inequalities.” [that] It’s in absolutely everything.” The Olympic gold medalist notes that while she once “bought the whole idea that I was lucky enough to just be able to play the sport I loved,” she now knows it can “So much injustice in the way we were treated.”

“It’s not hard to imagine how my career would have been different if I had been a man at the same level in our sport,” writes Sinclair. “I know I would be a lot richer.”

Christine Sinclair.

Sinclair at the 2019 World Cup.

Naomi Baker – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

On the other hand, Sinclair speaks about how incredible it’s been watching how the sport — and attitudes towards women’s sport overall — has evolved over the course of her career. In fact, she goes so far as to write that “the thing I’ll be most proud of is that I helped transform the sport” when she retires.

“It’s two things,” Sinclair told Insider. “On the one hand, you are proud of the changes that are being made. On the other hand, one is never satisfied. And sometimes it seems like it’s moving at the speed of a glacier.”

Regardless of the pace of progress, she said that witnessing changes throughout her career “has made me realize that when people come, when women’s sport gets a chance, people are watching.” And she is determined to realize that potential for the next generation.

Christine Sinclair signs autographs before a 2022 NWSL playoff game.

Sinclair signs autographs before a 2022 NWSL playoff game.

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

She wants equal pay for Canada’s national team. She advocates for a professional soccer league for women in Canada. And she’s calling for more coverage – on TV and beyond.

“I think it was halfway done that long,” Sinclair said. “And if it’s done like that, people don’t want to see it on TV if the camera angle is way up here – it’s the quality that counts and only the portrayal of women’s sport.”

“Sometimes it’s still sad when, for example, Canada’s matches aren’t shown on TV,” she added. “You can tune in to drone racing or something, or here in the US you can watch cornhole, but you can’t watch a WNBA game.”

Christine Sinclair.


Kevin Light/Getty Images

Sinclair knows “there is still work to be done” to right these injustices and give women’s sport the platform it deserves.

Maybe then people will start talking she call it the greatest that ever did it.

Playing the Long Game is now available online and in bookstores.


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