Christine Sinclair to miss tournament in England in wake of mother’s death

Christine Sinclair to miss tournament in England in wake of mother's death
Canada Soccer said the 38-year-old forward from Burnaby, B.C., is missing the tournament following the death of her mother Sandi, who had been battling multiple sclerosis. (File)

Canada will be without talismanic captain Christine Sinclair for the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup later this month in England.

Canada Soccer said the 38-year-old forward from Burnaby, B.C., is missing the tournament following the death of her mother Sandi, who had been battling multiple sclerosis.

Sinclair, the world’s all-time leading goal-scorer with 188, was extremely close to her mother and has been prominent in raising funds to help with MS research.

In a 2017 interview with The Canadian Press, Sinclair called her mother “the strongest person I know.”

Sinclair’s mother had been living in a suburban Vancouver care home. Her father, Bill, died in April 2016, less than four months before the Rio Olympics. He was 69.

Sandi Sinclair coached a young Christine and went on to become president of the local club that Christine and her brother played on.

Canada coach Bev Priestman offered condolences Monday on behalf of the national team.

“I can only imagine to lose your mum is a really difficult time in your life,” Priestman told reporters. “As a team, we’re right behind Christine and collectively we made the decision for her to be around loved ones at this really really difficult time.”

In a 2018 blog for the MS Society of Canada, Sinclair opened up about her mother.

“When I was a young girl, I remember my mom started using a cane. I never understood why,” she wrote. “It wasn’t until the first time I saw her cry that the answers began to unfold in front of me. I was no older than 12 when I found out my mom was living with multiple sclerosis.

“When you’re a kid, your parents are indestructible, and that’s what my mom was to me. Indestructible. But as years went by, I watched MS chip away at aspects of her life, and her fight against the chronic disease became tougher and tougher.”

While many other Canadian players now ply their trade in Europe, Sinclair elected to make her home in Portland, where she captains the NWSL Thorns and attended the University of Portland. Part of the reason was so she could jump in the car and drive north to see her mother and other family.

The sixth-ranked Canadians are joining No. 3 Germany, No. 8 England and No. 9 Spain at the Arnold Clark Cup.

Canada opens play Feb. 17 against England at Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough before facing Spain on Feb. 20 at Norwich’s Carrow Road and Germany on Feb. 23 at Wolverhampton’s Molineux.

The Canadian women will gather in London starting next Monday.

Priestman calls the camp “the start of a new journey” for her Olympic champion team.

“So the messaging is we’ve climbed one mountain, but we’re going to have to go and climb a completely different mountain,” she said.

Canada is preparing for the July final round of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, which will serve as a World Cup and Olympic qualifier.

“I think the team that’s needed in 2023 might be different to the team that was needed in 2021,” Priestman added. “And I think that’s now the exciting part where every player that comes into camp now is fighting for a spot for both the qualification and a World Cup.”

Priestman says the tough opposition at the England tournament will help Canada’s familiarize itself with some future foes given 11 European teams with feature in the expanded 32-team World Cup.

England, Germany and Spain are in the midst of qualifying for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand 2023.

First-time call-ups in the Canadian squad are midfielder Marie-Yasmine Alidou of Austria’s SK Sturm Graz, University of Memphis forward Tanya Boychuk and Washington Spirit goalkeeper Devon Kerr.

Benfica forward Cloe Lacasse and Kansas City Current midfielder Victoria Pickett have been called up for a second time.

West Ham forward Adriana Leon is unavailable due to injury.

Kerr is one of four goalkeepers in camp along with Kailen Sheridan, Sabrina D’Angelo and veteran Erin McLeod. The 26-year-old Sheridan, now with NWSL newcomer San Diego Wave FC, is seen as the front-runner to succeed newly retired Stephanie Labbe.

Priestman’s task in selecting her roster was complicated by the fact that NWSL teams are just gearing up for the season. The international window also coincides with the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship.

The 25-woman roster includes 13 players based in Europe, 10 from the NWSL and two from NCAA ranks.

Canada is 9-3-5, including two shootout wins at the Olympics, since Priestman was appointed coach in October 2020.

Priestman said the Canadian women will play a home friendly in April but did not offer any other details.


Goalkeepers: Sabrina D’Angelo, Vittsjo GIK (Sweden); Devon Kerr, Washington Spirit (NWSL); Erin McLeod, Orlando Pride (NWSL); Kailen Sheridan, San Diego Wave FC (NWSL).

Defenders: Kadeisha Buchanan, FCF Olympique Lyonnais (France); Gabrielle Carle, Kristianstads DFF (Sweden); Allysha Chapman, Houston Dash (NWSL); Vanessa Gilles Angel City FC (NWSL); Jayde Riviere, University of Michigan (NCAA); Sura Yekka, Havre AC (France); Shelina Zadorsky, Tottenham (England).

Midfielders: Marie-Yasmine Alidou D’Anjou, SK Sturm Graz (Austria); Jessie Fleming, Chelsea (England); Julia Grosso, Juventus (Italy); Ashley Lawrence, Paris Saint-Germain (France); Victoria Pickett, Kansas City Current (NWSL); Quinn, OL Reign (NWSL); Sophie Schmidt, Houston Dash (NWSL); Desiree Scott, Kansas City Current (NWSL).

Forwards: Janine Beckie, Manchester City (England); Tanya Boychuk, University of Memphis (NCAA); Jordyn Huitema, Paris Saint-Germain (France); Cloe Lacasse, SL Benfica (Portugal); Nichelle Prince, Houston Dash (NWSL); Deanne Rose, Reading (England).

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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