Story by Richard Scott
Forgive them if they need a moment, but Sophie Schmidt and Christine Sinclair will have the double focus of preparing for an important international friendly while also “taking in” all the sights, sounds and memories of playing for their National Team for the last time in their Canada careers. It’s a significant moment for two legends of the game, ranked second and first respectively in career international matches for Canada since their debuts as teenagers in the 2000s.
“It’s just been a real treat to be in this week,” said Schmidt, who hopes to make her 226th international appearance on Tuesday night. “It’s always an honour to represent Canada and we take that part seriously, but off the field there’s no place I’d rather be. Sinc and I were reminiscing and just talking about how amazing this environment is and how great the humans are… I’m just embracing it because you know the time is dwindling away very quickly.”
Schmidt was 16 years old when she made her debut for Canada on 19 April 2005 in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, but she was actually just 14 years old when she made her debut in the Canada youth program in 2003 for a U-16 camp in the United States. She got her first call up to the Women’s National Team from Head Coach Even Pellerud in January 2005.
Schmidt initially planned to leave the international game after the FIFA World Cup this summer, but the opportunity to play one last time in her own province in front of family and friends was just too special of an opportunity to miss. She played in five FIFA World Cups and four Olympic Games, won a Concacaf Championship, two Olympic Bronze Medals and an Olympic Gold Medal.
“It is the moments away from the soccer field that I’m going to miss the most,” said Schmidt. “I’ve played with (these players) for the majority of my life, like I’ve played with Sincy for nearly 20 years now. So there are the humans that I am going to miss, but also some of the crazy stories that come out of the life that we live, be it the places we get to see (or) the interactions that happen. They were some amazing life experiences.”
Sinclair was 16 years old when she made her debut for Canada on 12 March 2000 in Lagoa, Portugal, at the time the youngest-ever player for Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team. She got called into the U-18 team in November 1999 and then got her first call up to the Women’s National Team from Head Coach Even Pellerud in February 2000. She played in six FIFA World Cups and four Olympic Games, won a Concacaf Championship, two Olympic Bronze Medals and an Olympic Gold Medal.
“I tried to treat the first part of the camp like any another camp we’ve had, so just trying to focus on beating Australia,” said Sinclair. “I knew that once we moved (from Vancouver Island) to Vancouver, things would change. Just the vibe around (MD-2) practice, I think we had a half-hour long photoshoot so we could all take individual pictures with everyone.
“It’s kind of sinking in now, but as Sophie said, I am just trying to enjoy every moment (and) it’s really enjoyable to be playing soccer without any stress.”
Both Schmidt and Sinclair plan to continue their professional football careers in 2024, Schmidt with the Houston Dash and Sinclair with the Portland Thorns.
“It hit me when I was packing for camp coming here and ‘oh my gosh, this is going to be the last time I pack for a National Team camp,'” said Sinclair, who will make her 331st international appearance at the end of her 24th season with Canada.
So give them a moment to soak it all in. We’ll be here to just watch, stand and roar with applause for two of the greatest Canada havs ever seen.
Canada Soccer outlines return to soccer guidelines. The return to soccer guidelines provide member organizations with a five-step process, including a checklist of weighted questions known as the Return to Soccer Assessment Tool.