A well-earned win - Shawn Loughlin editorial
An emerging social media trend is the “appreciation post”. Someone will just post a few pictures or videos of a musician they like or an athlete they admire for no other reason but to simply bring that person the respect and attention the poster feels they deserve. You might be able to call this a Canadian women’s national soccer team appreciation post, but in newspaper form.
I have been following this team for a few years now. My fandom really began just over 10 years ago as Christine Sinclair began rising as one of the world’s best players and the team began climbing up the world rankings.
The team qualified for its first Olympics in 2008 and made it to the quarterfinals that year. They would then follow up with bronze medals in both 2012 and 2016 before, finally, winning gold late last week with thrilling wins over Brazil, the United States and Sweden.
And for those of us who watched the team succeed, we know there were some heartbreaking losses along the way – whether it be in the Olympics or in the Women’s World Cup – games or referee’s calls that should have gone one way, but went the other. They often came at tense moments in games against the United States, the golden child of women’s soccer, and they left us feeling a bit cheated.
But, last week, the Canadian women played extremely well and, when the situation called for luck, some of the breaks actually went the way of the Great White North and the history books were rewritten before our very eyes.
I have to say that this Olympic gold medal win was, for me, the most satisfying of my life. Seeing how hard those women had worked for so many years, only to come up just short, was tough for many years. So, to see them finally get to where they had always wanted to go was emotional for me. It seems I’m not alone.
Nearly 4.5 million people watched the Canadian women win gold on Friday morning. Those viewership numbers can be compared to the number of people who tune in to watch the Grey Cup and professional men’s hockey, baseball and basketball playoff games. These statistics have initiated a conversation about support for women’s sports, suggesting that perhaps Canada is ready, willing and able to support their female athletes, just as they do their men. This comes hot on the heels of a historic performance by Canadian women at the Olympics, with the ladies winning 18 of the country’s 24 medals.
I had always hoped things were different in Canada when it came to women’s sports. With very successful soccer and hockey teams, two of the biggest sports in the country, I always felt that we supported our female athletes a bit better than some of the other countries around the world. There is still ground to cover, but it seems we are doing our part for our women.
It’s hard to think of any Canadian who has done more to champion women’s sports in recent years than Christine Sinclair, the soccer team’s captain. The top scorer in all international soccer – men’s or women’s –Sinclair’s name has been known to many who know soccer for years, and she’s Canadian.
Many younger players on the team grew up watching Sinclair play and there’s no way to talk about their success without crediting Sinclair and the example she has set over the last 20 years.
The team is an inspiration for all Canadians, not just women or young girls (Blyth readers will have seen me out last week wearing my Sinclair and Jessie Fleming jerseys), and I honestly can’t express how proud I am to have them representing me and my family.