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Soccer, the beautiful game, can belong to Canada Add to ...

With Canada taking on the host team, Germany, in the opening match of the FIFA Women's World Cup of soccer Sunday, half of Canada's population is about to demonstrate to the other half that the Beautiful Game can be ours.

Our hockey team did us proud in Vancouver. We should just be as proud of our performance and promise in soccer. It is already one of Canada's most widely played sports, with an estimated 360,000 women and girls taking part. Internationally, the competition is not concentrated in North America, but spans the globe. The sport serves as a gateway to emancipation for women in some of the world's most misogynist regimes. And Canada will host the world tournament in 2015.

Canada has one of the world's most exciting players. Striker Christine Sinclair is soccer's Wayne Gretzky or Hayley Wickenheiser. She has scored 116 goals in 159 international matches. A YouTube survey of her best goals reveals feats of astonishing athleticism, with speed and marksmanship that leaves the defences of the world's top teams helpless.

Ms. Sinclair does not carry the team alone. Witness Canada's winning performance at last year's CONCACAF tournament of Western Hemisphere teams: Seventeen goals (by seven different players) in five games, with no goals allowed.

Canada is ranked sixth in the world; a place on the podium is in our sights. If our men's soccer team played at this level, beating such teams as Brazil and Mexico, there'd be ecstasy in the streets - the joyous multinational festival that consumes Canada every four years would have some homegrown maple-leaf content.

But there'll be a day, soon, when those comparisons won't be needed, when Canadians will pour out onto the street in celebration - not of "our women's team," but, simply, of "our team."

 

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