Last week, the shortlists for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2010 were revealed. The awards will be made in January, and will honour the single best men’s and women’s players and coaches – four separate awards in all. Final decisions will be made by the captains and coaches of the men’s and women’s national teams and international media selected by France Football.
Among the usual suspects (Messi, Ronaldo, Forlan, Xavi, Schweinsteiger, Iniesta etc on the men’s side; Marta, Birgit Prinz, Camile Abily on the women’s), BP notes one lone Canadian: the amazing goal-scoring machine Christine Sinclair. Sinclair’s credentials are second to none in North America – Player of the Year awards and goal-scoring records in the NCAA; Canadian all-time goals leader; and much more. But a Canadian, up for the best in the world at soccer?
Canadians have grown accustomed over decades to their country’s churning out many of the world’s best winter-sport athletes: hockey players – male and female – and some world-beating skiers and skaters. Only the occasional swimmer, runner, basketballer or baseball player squeeze into the “are-they-the-best?” category. Yeah, Canada has more kids playing youth soccer than youth hockey – but as adults, not many of them can even make a decent living as a pro, let alone make a bid for being the Best Player in the World.
Now here’s Christine Sinclair doing just that. Her inclusion on the list defies a Euro- and Latin-centric view of the Beautiful Game and testifies to her skills, her durability, and her results.
If Lionel Messi wins the Ballon d’Or, no one will be surprised (except maybe Arjen Robben). If Christine Sinclair wins, Canadian soccer fans should celebrate a rare player and a rare honour.