British Columbian Christine Sinclair won the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award, bestowed on The Canadian Press’ Outstanding Canadian Female Athlete in 2020.
Sinclair, 37, deserves this honor for the second time in her career. The only soccer player to ever win, Sinclair was also elected in 2012 after leading Canada to a memorable bronze medal at the London Olympics.
Sinclair garnered 20 of the 66 votes cast by directors, journalists and sports commentators across the country. Another soccer player, Kadeisha Buchanan, who won the UEFA Women’s Champions League for the fourth time with club Lyon, came second, with 14 points.
Short track speed skating specialist of Quebec Kim Boutin finished fourth with eight points, one behind professional basketball player Kia Nurse and one more than golfer Brooke Henderson.
Sinclair, the veteran captain of the Canadian team, added to an already impressive record by breaking the record of former American player Abby Wambach, who had scored 184 goals on the international stage.
She achieved her feat on Jan.29 at the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship in Edinburg, TX with her second goal of the game in Canada’s 11-0 win over St. Kitts. and-Niévès, a Caribbean national team ranked 127th in the world, at the time.
The winner of the Lionel Conacher Award, presented to The Canadian Press’s Outstanding Canadian Male Athlete, will be announced Tuesday. The nation’s most successful team will follow on Wednesday.
For Frank Sinclair, visibility is one of the key factors in tackling racism in football.
Of the 90 Premier League and EFL clubs in England, only four are currently managed by coaches from a black or ethnic minority background.
The pathway for former black players to managerial roles is still strewn with barriers, while their white counterparts have no such obstacles.
Former Chelsea, Leicester and Burnley defender Sinclair is in a new role as head of coaching development with League Two Port Vale, passing on his knowledge to the next generation.
But the 48-year-old wants to see more done to ensure greater representation for black managers and coaches, and to afford them the same equality of opportunity as their white colleagues.
“What I do see is a lot of lip service and a lack of action,” said Sinclair.
“When I look at my black peers who’ve played the game and gone into coaching and management, there are so many I think ‘have they really had a fair opportunity?’
“Take Paul Ince, who captained England and played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, but had to start his managerial career at Macclesfield Town.
“Then, in recent times, others are getting better opportunities higher up, when you look at Steven Gerrard at Rangers and Frank Lampard at Chelsea, who had similar careers to Paul.
“There just seems to be an imbalance in the opportunities black coaches are getting, when they finish playing and go into coaching and management – the visibility is poor.
“Unless we get equality of job opportunity, it’s always going to be difficult for black coaches to inspire the players playing now, who are thinking of going down that same route.
“If they can’t visibly see it, it’s not encouraging them to say ‘I’m going to go down that route and get into coaching and management.
“If you can’t see it, it’s very difficult to have that ambition.”
It is not just in coaching and management where there is a lack of diversity. At the very top positions at the FA, UEFA and other administrations, there is little or no black representation.
“Look at what Paul Elliott has done at the FA, at governance level and for equality in the game,” said Sinclair.
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“But when he attempts to get on the board, one he’s supported for so many years, and he’s voted against being a board member, that sums up the lack of inclusivity at the top of the game.
“It’s okay to be helping out, encouraging or advising on matters of diversity or a lack of representation in the game, but they’re reluctant to make these people equal.
“Until that happens, there’s always going to be a problem.
“Until the likes of Jason Roberts, who is doing unbelievable work with CONCACAF, is able to join UEFA, they’re never going to know what he’s gone through and why he’s on a mission to strive for diversity.
“As much as we talk about it, unless you’ve experienced racism, it’s very difficult to have empathy with what it really feels like and what needs to be done to deal with it.”
Sinclair who won the FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup as a player, cited Port Vale as a progressive, forward-thinking club with a commitment to diversity and equality.
“There’s a handful of clubs you can look at, in terms of their coaching staff, the way they’re set up, and say ‘there’s diversity there’,” said Sinclair. “I’d include Port Vale in that.
“From having a black head of coaching and an Asian head of the academy, it was something I wasn’t aware of, but these things need to be cherished and talked about.”
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