Christine Sinclair, OC, soccer player (born 12 June 1983 in Burnaby, BC). Soccer player Christine Sinclair has been named Canadian Player of the Year 14 times. She has scored more international goals (187) and more Olympic goals (12) than any other player in the world. After twice being named the top women’s college soccer player in the United Sates and winning two NCAA championships, Sinclair led the Canadian women’s team to three World Cups (2011, 2015, 2019) and four Olympic Summer Games (Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020). The team won back-to-back Olympic bronze medals in 2012 and 2016 before winning gold in Tokyo. Sinclair received the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s female athlete of the year in 2012 and 2020 and was named Canada Soccer Player of the Decade in 2019. The first soccer player to win the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year, she has been inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Early Life and Family
Christine Sinclair was born and raised in Burnaby, British Columbia. Her family — parents Bill and Sandra and brother Mike — was very into soccer. Her father played university soccer as well as with the New Westminster Blues of the amateur Pacific Coast Soccer League. Two of Christine’s uncles, Brian and Bruce Gant, competed in soccer from the amateur to professional level. All three men also won the Challenge Trophy, Canada Soccer’s amateur championship.
At age 11, Sinclair made British Columbia’s under-14 all-star soccer team. She also led her club team, Burnaby Girls Soccer Club, to six league titles, five provincial titles, and two Top 5 national finishes. She attended and played soccer at Burnaby South Secondary School, where she led the team to three league championships.
Early International Career
Sinclair was 16 years old when she was first invited to a Team Canada training camp in January 2000. She debuted with the senior team at the 2000 Algarve Cup in Portugal, where she scored three goals and led Canada in scoring. That same year, Sinclair was named Canadian Player of the Year for the first of 14 times. She ended the year with a then-record 15 goals in 18 international games. She was 17 years old.
In 2002, Sinclair helped her country reach a second-place finish in the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup. She also represented Canada that year at the inaugural FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in Edmonton; she scored a record 10 goals, which helped Canada finish second in the tournament. She earned both the Golden Boot as leading scorer and Golden Ball as the tournament MVP.
In 2003, Sinclair made her 50th appearance for Canada, becoming the seventh Canadian women to reach the milestone. At the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, she scored three goals and led Canada to a fourth-place finish. She won her second Canadian Soccer Player of the Year award in 2004 and went on to win the award every year up to and including 2014.
Sinclair studied and played soccer at the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon, which she attended from 2001 to 2005. She graduated with a degree in Life Science. In her first season with the Portland Pilots, she scored 23 goals and eight assists in 24 games; this made her the top-scoring freshman in the country. In her freshman year she won NCAA, Soccer America, and Soccer Buzz first team All-American; Soccer America Freshman of the Year; UP Female Athlete of the Year; and West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year.
During the next three college seasons, Sinclair scored more than 20 goals each year and won numerous first team All-American and Player of the Year awards. She received the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy in 2004 and 2005 as the top female college soccer player in the United States.
In her senior year with the Pilots, Sinclair tallied a remarkable 39 goals and 10 assists in just 25 games — an all-time NCAA Division-I scoring record. She helped lead the Pilots to their only two national championships to date, in 2002 and 2005.
Later Career International Play
In 2007, Sinclair captained Canada at the Pan American Games. She scored a remarkable eight goals in three games (including two hat tricks) and led the team to a bronze medal. Also in 2007, she scored her 72nd international goal and made her 100th cap (international appearance) for Canada.
In 2008, the Canadian women’s soccer team became the first Canadian soccer team to qualify for the Olympic Summer Games. The team went on to finish in eighth place — their lowest finish to date.
During the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup final against Mexico, Sinclair scored the game’s only goal to help Canada win its second title that year, after the women’s U-17 team won the Women’s Under-17 Championship in March. The victory also qualified the national team for the 2011 Women’s World Cup.
During the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, Sinclair captained Team Canada to its first-ever bronze medal while breaking the record for most goals (six) scored in women’s soccer at the Olympics. (See Women’s Soccer Team Wins Olympic Bronze.) She received the tournament’s golden boot and was named Canada’s flag bearer for the closing ceremony. Sinclair score a personal best 23 goals in 22 games in 2012. On the strength of this and the Olympic bronze medal, she became the first soccer player to win the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year.
On 12 December 2013, in a 2–0 win over Scotland at the 2013 Torneio Internacional Cidade de São Paulo, Sinclair made her 200th appearance and scored her 147th goal for Canada. Sinclair led Canada to two more FIFA Women’s World Cups in 2015 and 2019. It was at the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship where Sinclair passed Abby Wambach for first place in international goals by either men or women by scoring her 185th international goal.
During the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo (postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic), Sinclair led Team Canada to a historic gold medal. Canada won 3–2 on kicks from the penalty mark after a 1–1 draw against Sweden. Sinclair helped the Canadians stay unbeaten across their six matches at the Games, claiming their third consecutive Olympic medal and Canada’s first-ever gold in women’s soccer. “I’m so proud of this team because we had a goal to change the colour of the medal and we landed on the top of the podium,” Sinclair said. “We didn’t make it easy on ourselves, but we fought and clawed and scratched our way to the top. It’s an honour to be a part of this group.”
While attending the University of Portland, Sinclair played for both the Portland Pilots and the Vancouver Breakers (now the Vancouver Whitecaps FC). During her 10 appearances for the Breakers in the USL W-League, Sinclair scored nine goals, making her the top goal scorer that year. She finished the 2001–02 season with the Breakers as runner-up to the Boston Renegades, losing 5–1 in the final.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
In 2006, Sinclair returned to the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. She scored 10 goals in 21 games for the Whitecaps, making her the top goal scorer on the team in 2006. Sinclair helped her squad win the USL W-League championship by defeating Ottawa Fury Women 3–0.
FC Gold Pride
In 2008, Bay Area’s FC Gold Pride selected Christine Sinclair eighth overall in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) International Draft. In 2010, she helped the club win the league title. She scored a total of 16 goals with the club.
Western New York Flash
Sinclair signed with the Western New York Flash for the 2011 season after FC Gold Pride ceased operations in 2010. She led the club with 10 goals and eight assists. She was also named MVP of the WPS championship match after giving Western New York Flash a 1–0 lead in the final.
In her first season with Portland Thorns and the inaugural season of the National Women’s Soccer League, Sinclair scored the Thorns’ first-ever goal and tied Alex Morgan for top scorer. She was named the team’s Most Valuable Player in 2013 after helping her team win the NWSL Championship.
Sinclair helped the Thorns to their second NWSL Championship in 2017; she led the team in scoring with eight goals during the regular season, earning Portland’s Golden Boot award.
Honours and Legacy
Christine Sinclair was nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year seven times (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2016). She was named Canadian Player of the Year 14 times, including 11 years in a row from 2004 to 2014. She was also named Canada Soccer Player of the Decade in 2019. In 2013, she was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame and received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Simon Fraser University. She also received an honorary degree from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in 2015.
In 2016, Sinclair was featured on the front cover of FIFA 16 video game by EA Sports with Lionel Messi. She was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017. Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart declared 29 January 2020 “Christine Sinclair 185 Day” in the city.
Sinclair said to Canada Soccer in 2017, “I am a very, very proud Canadian, I am proud of where I am from, so to be recognized in this nature is surreal. It’s not something you can dream about happening to you: I can dream of winning a World Cup or an Olympic gold medal, that’s my job; but to have your country recognize you, I don’t even know what to say.”
Former Canada Soccer President Steven Reed also wrote, “Christine Sinclair is a once-in-a-generation athlete that has been at the heart of Canadian sport for over 20 years, but what she accomplished in the past 10 years has changed the sport forever in our country. Christine is the Canada Soccer Player of the Decade and unquestionably one of the greatest and most-loved athletes Canada has ever watched.”
- Player of the Year, Canada (2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018)
- All-Star, FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup (2002)
- Golden Ball, FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup (2002)
- Golden Boot, FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup (2002)
- Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame (2003)
- All-Star, CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying (2004)
- Player of the Year, BC Soccer (2006)
- Bobbie Rosenfeld Award (2012)
- Lou Marsh Trophy (2012)
- All-Time Canada XI (2012)
- Queen Ellizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012)
- Canada’s Walk of Fame (2013)
- CAAWS Most Influential Women (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
- Best XI, CONCACAF (2016, 2018)
- Officer, Order of Canada (2017)
- Player of the Decade, Canada (2019)
- Player of the Month, Canada (July 2019, January 2020, October 2020)
- Team of the Decade, IFFHS CONCACAF (2011-2020)
- A.C. Hermann Trophy, NCAA (2004, 2005)
- Honda Sports Award, NCAA (2005)
- BC Soccer Youth Player of the Year (1999, 2000)
- Player of the Week, WPS (2010, 2011)
- Most Valuable Player, WPS Championship Final (2011)