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New era of recognition for women's soccer?


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I have been following the women's team for almost 10 years and in my neck of the woods couldn't find anyone who watched their games or wanted to talk about them, except during World Cup (and only a few at that). That's how I ended up on these boards, looking for others who enjoy the women's games.

Unfortunately, I'm one of the few people who missed the Canada USA game as I was hiking in the backcountry. This game captured Canada's attention like no other. Hikers returned from the lighthouse with updates, the ranger radio'd the lighthouse for the final results...On a remote beach with visiting wolves, bears and whales everyone was talking about Sinclair, the team, the reffing. I just couldn't believe it!

Now with a medal around their necks, I can only hope that the team gets its share of recognition and appreciation, not just from the Canadian public and media (that's a given now) but from the grumpy old soccer establishment who have been putting them down for years (already seeing some of that too).

I am also hoping that John Herdman will become the poster boy for coaching in Canada. This is what good coaching is about...empowerment, validation, tactics, technique combined with a scientific approach to maximum fitness. Not to mention development, using all of your players and building depth. Who would have believed that they could win a medal with all of the injuries to their starting back line?

Congrats to the team and everyone involved and kudos for your resilience and belief in yourselves, no matter what the outside world thought of your aspirations.

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Olympic star Christine Sinclair ready for fame back home


LONDON - Watching Christine Sinclair, eyes blazing as she dominates the pitch, rarely brings to mind thoughts of the late Princess Diana.

But when John Herdman took over as coach of the Canadian women’s soccer team, he saw some of Lady Di’s charisma in his captain. He introduced a committee of a half-dozen key players to serve as a leadership core and Sinclair, the talented epicentre of the sport in Canada, was a part of it.

“We described the type of leaders they were. They all are different, very different. From your Margaret Thatcher to your Mother Teresa to your Lady Diana. You’ve all got different powers here of influence,” he told them.

And which was Sinclair?

“She’s your Princess Diana,” Herdman said. “She just attracts people because of who she is. She just has this presence of humbleness and a beauty within that as well, you know? But when she’s asked to fight on a football pitch, she’ll stand her ground and she’ll fight for our cause. She’s special, very special. I think all these girls are.”

Sinclair is the biggest star on the team that has become the biggest story for Canada in these Olympic Games.

The 29-year-old from Burnaby has become the queen of these Games for Canada, though she admitted Friday, the day after winning bronze in an unlikely victory over France, she has no idea what awaits her and her teammates when she gets home, no concept of the way Canadians embraced her team.

“I don’t think as players we fully understand what’s been happening back home. Even just arriving back in the (athletes) village last night and seeing our fellow Canadian team members, they were like: ‘You have no idea what’s been going on,’ and those are people that are here,” Sinclair told QMI Agency.

“I can’t wait to get home and see my family, but I have no idea what to expect.”

She can expect a nation that fell in love with a scrappy team that left its hearts and tears on the legendary pitch at Old Trafford Monday, losing a horribly officiated match to the Americans in extra time and losing its shot at a gold medal. Sinclair scored three times in the game.

She had a touch that started the play that led to the winning goal by Diana Matheson with seconds left in added time during Thursday’s bronze-medal game.

Sinclair’s performance here and what she has meant to the national team have her in the discussion over who should be Canada’s flagbearer at the Closing Ceremony.

“She’s a special woman,” Herdman said. “Canada has been privileged to watch her play for these many years. I think there has been a bit of a void in her career and that was filled (Thursday).

“I think (Thursday) and particularly the heartbreak against the United States, that’s legendary stuff. It’s just unbelievable.”

She grew up in Burnaby, B.C., wanting to be like her older brother, Michael, with whom she shared a newspaper route and a love of sports. Michael played for the national men’s soccer team as did two uncles, Brian and Bruce Gant.

“(Michael) was the reason I got into sports. I wanted to do everything he did,” said Sinclair, who also played baseball and, as a second baseman, idolized Roberto Alomar of the Toronto Blue Jays.

“Growing up, we didn’t have female role models to look up to, especially in athletics. Hopefully we’ve changed that. Hopefully now young girls can dream of being the next Rhian Wilkinson. As John said, we want the young girls to dream of being in the Olympics, getting a medal around their neck, representing their country. If we’ve given those girls the opportunity, just the belief that it can happen, I think we’ve done our job.”


But the job’s not done yet.

Sinclair, who described herself as shy, doesn’t know if she’s ready to handle what’s waiting at home.

Some people chase fame, others have it chase them.

“I’m like in the middle. I understand that it’s my role. I understand that this is a huge step if we want to change this sport in Canada. Myself, the team, we’re now in a position where we can have an impact on young kids. I think it’s something we welcome. Some of us won’t be comfortable with it, but that’s all right,” she said.

“It’s just that I’m shy. I sort of keep to myself. But whatever is needed and required of me to help, I’m all there.”

Just like she has been for Canada for the last decade. Her performance against the U.S. will go down as one of Canada’s best at the Olympic Games, but Sinclair said she is still too close to it to appreciate its place.

“Personally, it was one of the best games I ever played yet we lost and not only did we lose, we lost a shot at a gold medal.

“I think in maybe a couple of weeks or a couple of months, looking back on what I was able to do in that game at Old Trafford, against the best team in the world, maybe it will mean something then.”

The emotions of that game still resonated when the Canadians got off their bus from Coventry, where they won the bronze and arrived at Wembley Stadium to receive their medals.

Making it just a little tougher to take were the T-shirts the Americans wore after their victory. They read: “Greatness has been found.”

“They’re the three-time gold medallists now. I don’t think I necessarily would have made that shirt for myself, but I haven’t won three gold medals so I don’t know,” said Sinclair.

Did the shirts cause some chatter among the Canadians?

“Maybe a little.”

Sinclair posed for a couple more photographs by Sun photographer Al Charest, holding the medal close to her face and those clear, blazing eyes.

She held the medal out.

“Don’t they kind of look like they’re filled with chocolate?” she said.


And even sweeter.

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Diana Matheson cracks them up

Chris Stevenson - August 10th, 2012

LONDON – She’s the Paul Henderson or Sidney Crosby of the Canadian women’s Olympic soccer team.

Little Diana Matheson (she can’t be five feet tall) is also funny.

Some of the players were available to the media Friday morning and one of the questions was about what kept each of them going through the down times of the Canadian program (they finished last in the World Cup last summer).

The women were very articulate in explaining their motivations.

“It was the drive to see how good we could get personally, how good we could get as a team. I think (coach) John (Herdman) and his staff was a huge part of that and helped us get better in ways that we didn’t even know we could get better. It’s been a really fun journey and it’s an amazing group. Just being together as much as possible,” said Matheson, before deadpanning: “and having no other career plans.”

That brought a laugh from everybody in the room.

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