Vancouver sets national record for Christine Sinclair’s farewell

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      On December 5, a total of 48,122 people packed into the temporarily-renamed Christine Sinclair Place to watch a friendly soccer match where Team Canada beat Team Australia in a 1-0 victory.

      Those 48,000-odd spectators set a record for the largest crowd ever for an international women’s friendly soccer match, as the crowd bid goodbye to Team Canada’s captain and long-time superstar (and Burnaby-born) Christine Sinclair. 

      Sinclair, who holds the world record for most international goals scored by any player (a cool 190), has played 331 matches for Team Canada since her first appearance as a 16-year-old in 2000. 

      The list of her achievements is practically endless: captaining the team to the gold medal at the 2020 Olympic Games and two bronzes at previous games, and winning the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s Championship in 2010. She’s 14-time winner of the Canada Soccer Player of the Year Award, won Canada’s athlete of the year in 2012, joined Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2013, and has been appointed to both the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia.

      “Christine Sinclair is not just a national hero; she's a hometown hero,” said Chris May, general manager at BC Place, in a statement. “Growing up in Burnaby, her journey to international stardom resonates deeply with the local community.” 

      It was also Sophie Schmidt’s final match for Canada, as the Abbotsford-raised midfielder (who subbed in for Sinclair in the second half) had also announced her retirement.

      The photo Christine Sinclair posted on social media to celebrate becoming the world record-holder for most goals scored, in 2020.

      Notably, it was the largest crowd to pack BC Place since 2016, when Canada’s men’s team faced Mexico and lost 3-0 in a FIFA World Cup qualifier. 

      So, while the national soccer attendance record Vancouver just posted is pretty specific, it’s a reminder that women’s sports—and especially women’s soccer—are more than just niche hobbies. (As a step in the right direction, an eight-team Canadian professional women’s soccer league is set to launch in 2025, with the Whitecaps as one of the two founding teams… only 13 years after the last women’s Whitecaps club team was dissolved in 2012.)

      Women’s sports events are important cultural and community touchstones that deserve equal amounts of investment, funding, and media coverage—which Sinclair has been fighting for her entire career, and no doubt will continue to do so whenever she begrudgingly talks to the media in her next iteration. 

      Farewell to a real one, Sinc.